November 18

What Are Text Dependent Questions?

Recently, your teachers have been asking you to dig deeper into the texts that you’re reading.  They’re not just asking you to identify the setting of a story, or the main character.  Now, they’re pushing you to answer a question and support it with evidence from the story.  For instance, after reading about Warren Faidley in the “Eye of the Storm” you might be asked to explain why Warren moves to different parts of the country depending on the season to take photos.  How would you answer this question?  That’s right you’d need to go back and reread the text.  Then, you’d have to use the text to explain your answer.  Recently, NPR did a story on some 5th graders doing this in their class.  Go to the story and listen to these students in action.

NPR: “Common Core Reading: Difficult, Dahl, Repeat”

Is this really any different than what you’ve had to do in the past?

Maybe it’s new, or perhaps you’ve been doing this in other classrooms too.  Now, the Common Core Standards are demanding you to do this more often.  Why?

Here’s an example of what it might look like.

Try it with partners.  Look back in the story “Eye of the Storm” to answer the following question:

Do you think Warren would face any danger in order to get a spectacular storm shot?  Use facts from the selection to support your answer.


November 6

Book Talks

Recently, we started a Book Club for Radio 5th Grade, by Gordon Korman.  Yesterday we started to talk more about this story in a small group setting, a book talk group.  We thought about what that would look like.  There were certain things we would look for during a Book Talk.

It would look like….

  • Students are facing each other in a circle.
  • Students would be taking turns with talking.
  • Students would use non verbal skills for communicating thoughts.  For instance, students might nod to show they agree with something.  A smile might demonstrate that you like what someone is sharing.
  • Eyes would be on the speaker.
  • Hands are in your lap, your book, or reading/writing journal.
  • Use a signal to show who’s turn it is to speak.  i.e. bean bag

It would sound like….

  • Kids are sharing with a regular talking voice.
  • Positive/polite responses are given.
  • Kids make sure to listen actively.  You might start by saying, “It sounds like you’re saying….”
  • Kids take care not to talk over others and wait for a turn.
  • Kids ask questions to dig deeper when a thought has been shared.
  • We ask to make sure everyone has had a chance to add what they want.  For instance, I might say, “Does anyone have anything else to add to my thought/question?”

Here’s a video that shows one way a group might proceed during a Book Talk.

The volume for the students sharing isn’t great, but if you pay attention to the subtitles, it gives you an idea of how a Book Talk process might flow.

November 3

Book Club

Today we’re starting book club.  Most students will read a story during the week and practice answering text dependent questions related to that book.  The first book we’ll look at is Radio 5th Grade.

Radio 5th Grade

This is a Gordon Korman book.  He’s written books you might have heard of before.  His books include: Swindle, Ungifted and the 39 Clues series.  This book is about Benjy Driver, who’s passion is focused on a school radio show.


He soon finds out that having a hit radio show is a seriously hard thing to manage.  He struggles with keeping his homework exploits a secret; a crazy bully reading stories about kittens; and an uncooperative parrot; in order, to keep his radio station show afloat.


Category: Reading | LEAVE A COMMENT