Text dependent questions are everything!
I remember the days when a consultant came to my school and she told us to have kids “cite their answers to everything.” In true education professional development (ha!) we overdid it…and basically lost the kids in the process! One of the more embarrassing things I’ll humble myself to mention (!) is that we had the kids cite where they found their answers in their unit and end-of-week assessments – and sometimes the process of taking the test would take 4+ hours…even for the benchmark kids! I know, I should be banned from the profession! Seriously!
I know that what we were trying to do is get kids to read what’s on the doggone page! I remember saying (and I KNOW you can relate to this!), “The answer is RIGHT THERE! All you have to do is read the text!” It WAS true, all they had to do was read the text. But I hadn’t quite taught them to read the text properly. And even if I had taught them to read the text properly, I wouldn’t have been even asking the right questions!
The deal was, I was just trying to follow directions and get kids to higher levels of comprehension. I can’t imagine that the consultant that came to help us meant for us to spend 4+ hours having kids cite the text but, hey, we were rule followers!
Needless to say, I know better now!
(AND, all of that work didn’t lead to higher levels of comprehension. I know – big SHOCK!)
What we know now is that by asking the right questions, we will require kids to closely read the text. And closely reading the text leads to comprehension independence!
So you might be wondering how on earth you determine that a question is text dependent or not? Well, here’s a simple checklist for you…Hint: I use this as my “checklist” for text-dependency…to make sure that my questions measure up.
- Are questions that can only be answered correctly by close reading of the text and demand careful attention to the text
- Require an understanding that extends beyond recalling facts
- Often require students to infer
- Do not depend on information from outside sources
- Provide access to increasing levels of complex text
- Call for careful and thoughtful teacher preparation
- Require time for students to process
I want to encourage you to try something – it’s a little something that will have huge impact on your alignment from current instruction into the Common Core. Take 10 questions that you might ask during text reading this week and analyze them for their “text dependent quality.”
In fact, here are a few Text Dependent stems…and then examples of actual questions for you to use.
|Look at _______ in the photographs on pages _____. Now look at _______ in the photographs on page ____. Write one way ______ on these pages are alike and one way they are different. Explain how the author lets you know this.
||Look at the animals in the photographs on pages 27 – 32. Now look at the animals in the photographs on page 47. Write one way the animals on these pages are alike and one way they are different. Explain how the author lets you know this.
|Based on the photographs and text on page ____, in your own words define the word __________.
||Based on the photographs and text on page 89, in your own words define the word teacher.
|Reread the heading and text on page _____. ____________________? Explain your answer.
||Reread the heading and text on page 197. How did slavery end? Explain your answer.
|On page _____, the author writes, “__________.” What does the author mean by the phrase, “_______”? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
||On page 33, the author writes, “The little boy was working as busy as a bee.” What does the author mean by the phrase, “busy as a bee”? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
|Look at the illustrations on page 422. Describe how the illustrations help the reader better understand the text.
|Why does the author tell us ___________________? (Pg. ____)
||Why does the author tell us time is a thief? (Pg. 70)
|Reread page __. What is the important information on this page?
|Use the information on page ____ to define ______. Why is ______ important?
||Use the information on page ____ to define pollen. Why is pollen important?
Here’s my big take-away with text-dependent questioning…if I expect my students to speak, write and read at a high level, then I have to make sure that my questions are at a high level! It’s only taken me 18 years in the field to figure this out. 😉
What is student achievement anyway? When you’re looking at the umpteenth school improvement report, crunching your student data or figuring out who goes into the latest round of intervention, do you ever find yourself asking that question?
I do. And lots of folks we work with are asking the same question.
I think it’s time for some collaboration around what achievement REALLY is, looks like, smells like, tastes like, feels like. As I’ve been mulling this over, I’ve had five statements rolling around my head about student achievement – I wonder if some thinking around these statements will help us decide upon a common definition about student achievement.
Take a peek…
Student Achievement Fact #1: It’s not about the test, but it’s about the test.
Big idea: Our tendency is to think of “the test” as some looming ogre or a kind of thing that is there to judge, hire/fire, skip grades/hold kids back, scare the heck out of my students and me kind of deal. Well, I have seen teachers who have used the test as a MOTIVATOR for their kids and even themselves! In the end, our teaching has to align with some common measure in order to determine how useful and helpful our instruction has been. Without a common measuring tool, there is no way to measure whether students are on target for long-term success. Just like the height/weight chart at the doctor’s office gives a pretty accurate prediction about important measurements, so should “the test”.
I often say, if we don’t stand for a high standard, then we’re automatically defaulting to the low standard. Eek!
Student Achievement Fact #2: Kids who are working at the appropriate achievement level should be able to AT LEAST past the test.
Big Idea: Kids who are solid on skills pass the test. Period. Kids who are not solid on the skills, drive the teachers to do crazy things like cram before the test, think that testing at a certain time of the day is going to be the difference between a “pass” and “fail” performance. The bottom line is this: Get your kids solid on the skills and you don’t have a thing to worry about on “the test”. I’ve seen this in practice a whole slew of times.
Student Achievement Fact #3: It’s about a pattern, not an event.
Big Idea: Kids who are solid on skills perform at a high level regularly – they have a history of past and more recent success on skill-based tests. So when it comes time to take “the test”, we know who is going to do well and who is not – – the writing is on the wall LONG before we even take “the test”. I don’t know about you, just because I did a 5k over Thanksgiving, doesn’t make me a “runner”. It was an event, believe me…not a pattern.
Student Achievement Fact #4: It’s not about the standards, but it’s about what the standards produce in the end.
Big Idea: Lots of folks are fussing and fighting about “what” to teach – and I think it’s a huge waste of time and a huge morale killer amongst education professionals. Here’s the deal: the standards that we are held to, IF TAUGHT THOROUGHLY AND SKILLFULLY, will produce students who are confidently mastered on important skills. We must keep our eyes on the prize and base all of the skill-related work that we do firmly rooted in the idea that “I am teaching you to do xyz so that you can do abc” – random skill practice doesn’t lead to standard mastery. By linking everything we do to the bigger, end result-kind of success for kids, we’re going to see a pay-out.
Student Achievement Fact #5: It’s not about the past, it’s about the future.
Big Idea: Get over what didn’t work in the past or what should’ve happened in the past and get to teaching. What you do tomorrow in class has a bigger impact on the future than what happened yesterday or last year. We should always operate in this mindset: What I’m doing right now with my students is the most powerful thing I could be doing with my time.
In the end – teaching really counts!!!!
Are there other “facts” that support different schools of thought than what you’ve just read?
Certainly! But, where I see so much of our “achievement calibration” work to be done is in the idea of mindset. In fact, I just emailed back and forth with a teacher that we support and her final words were: These kids WILL make benchmark…if it kills me! Now that’s one strong mindset! (She was also reaching out for very specific support, which tells you something about her commitment to her practices)
So, as you mull over the Facts above, I encourage you to not think of every way that I’m off base, obsess over every time-crunched moment of your instructional day, or every reason why this or that won’t work with your students.
But instead I’d like you to repeat this a few times: I wonder what would happen if…
And finish that sentence with something like this:
I wonder what would happen if…I used the test as a tool to help me figure out what I need to emphasize next week?
I wonder what would happen if…I taught everyday like all of my students were poised to pass the test?
I wonder what would happen if…I established a pattern of success from the very first test at the beginning of year with every student?
I wonder what would happen if…I corrected my students’ assessments and imagined them as 22 year olds, ten years from now?
I wonder what would happen if…I let go of the past results about my students and focused on what they can do today.
What do you think would happen?
For those of you who know me, you know I’m obsessed with simple goals that lead to big results. In fact, I just guest authored a blog over the holidays where the basic premise was this: we have everything we need, we just need to to simply and faithfully use it!
So, the fact that it’s 2013 already (gulp!) and we’ve got to get started on our big plans, tells me that the goals don’t mean a thing unless we have a route to get to ’em!
So, what we’ve been using regularly with our clients is a very simple 3-tiered goal setting sheet. (I’ve scanned in the copy of one I was just sending my client in preparation for our upcoming work together!
Basically, what we do to create our pathway for success is set goals that are broad and then funnel very tightly down into personal goals to be implemented right there in the classrooms. Annnnnnnnd…voila! Goals are met!
So, where do you get started?
One of our clients chose, “Every classroom will increase student engagement by 15% in the first trimester” as Goal #1 for “Program Implementation Goals”. Then each site got together and mirrored their goal #1 from the district’s #1 goal at the very top. One of the schools made their site goal, “We will implement 2 main structures 5xs each daily in order to increase our student engagement in reading and math: Think, pair, share and response journals”.
Then after each site makes their site instructional goals, each individual teacher then creates his or her personal goal related to the district and site goal.
Here’s the cool thing: Without focusing on 10 zillion different things, EVERYONE is working toward the same goal!
The other cool thing: The work is TAILORED to the site and the individual teacher so that we’re not duplicating work that has already been done or missing big pieces because we’ve avoided customized goals
Yet another cool thing: The work is tailored to reach directly into the classroom with the students. Too many reforms are focused “above” the classroom and never funnel in. By ensuring that individual teachers make goals, we’re reaching right there into the student level – and that’s where the action all happens, anyway!
The other cool thing? Critical mass – -the “spectacle” that arises when everyone is doing the same thing – – it creates momentum of its own. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Now, I know some of our readers are thinking, “But WAIT – we have 10,000 goals on our school improvement plans…how does focusing on 3 areas help us meet all 10,000?” Here’s my answer to that: quality over quantity. Period. I’d also offer this advice: doing small things well is contagious – once you get that “I did it!” feeling, you have more energy and confidence tackling the next thing!
So…where are YOU starting? Talk to me! 🙂
So, it’s that time of year when I start to look at what I want my 2013 to look like…and my one major goal is to really to boost my expert-level knowledge by exponentially improving my educational reading library. All done in one click on Amazon – ha!
Here’s what dictionary.com says about what an “expert” is – and BOY do I want to continue to be one!
I WILL BE a person with special skill. I WILL BE a person with special knowledge in a particular field. I WILL receive the highest rating in my field. I WILL BE all of these things, BUT I have to do it through practice and training – – – and I’m starting 2013 by getting PUMPED UP on these resources by true experts in our field! (Most importantly, I’m continuing to practice what I preach – – -and I’m excited about it!)
Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have
Effective Supervision: Supporting the Art and Science of Teaching
Robert J. Marzano, et al
The SAGE Handbook of Educational Leadership: Advances in Theory, Research, and Practice
Fenwick W. English
Making the Grade: Reinventing America’s Schools
Tony Wagner, Thomas Vander Ark
Leaders of Learning: How District, School, and Classroom Leaders Improve Student Achievement
Richard DuFour, Robert J. Marzano
Just checking to see if you were paying attention.…!
“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.”
– Denis Waitley
I would not be exaggerating if I said EVERYWHERE that I go educators are complaining about not having enough TIME. Here’s what it sounds like…
From the principal: I would LOOOOOVE to get into the classrooms more often, but I have so many behavioral issues that take up my time!
From the coach: I would LOOOOOVE to get in a debrief within 24 hours but I have to finish up paperwork and go to so many trainings that I often end up giving feedback to teachers a week later!
From teachers and teams: We would LOOOOOVE to spend more time prepping for those lessons, but all of the other stuff that we have to do take so much time that the preparation and planning is my last step each week and I’m exhausted by the time I get there!
What’s the common denominator? They all would LOOOOOVE to do something!
Well, here’s the deal: I LOOOOOVE to go get my nails done. In fact I did it yesterday! I love taking my book that has nothing to do with work. I love that they don’t allow cell phones so there are no rings or pings or interruptions. I love to come out of the nail salon all shiny and new. I love the choices of colors. I just love it. (I know some of you are reading this and thinking…is she REALLY going to talk manicures? Yes, she REALLY is, but she’ll get to a bigger point, so hang in there…)
And because I love it, I make sure I don’t miss my appointment.
Let’s take for example yesterday. I had an appointment at 5:00 p.m. It takes 15 minutes to drive to this particular nail place and sometimes parking is a challenge, so I knew I needed to leave at 4:30 from my house to get there in plenty of time.
So I backtracked my tasks so that I was done at 4:30 on the dot.
Because my nail appointment was important to me and I didn’t want to miss it and have it overwhelmed by everything else.
I put my phone calls on my calendar at SPECIFIC times – not just on a to-do list.
I put my email answering at a SPECIFIC time – not just on a to-do list.
I put my writing projects at SPECIFIC times – not just on a to-do list.
I even put in a couple of 15 minute breaks at SPECIFIC TIMES – not just on a to-do list.
The thing is, I LOOOOOOVE a good to-do list, but I find that when I don’t schedule my tasks out, the list gets a few things crossed off, but most of them remain at the bottom…especially the ones I don’t want to do!
So what does this have to do with putting out fires and manicures and all this mess?
If most educators site TIME as a #1 or #2 inhibitor of getting things done that they know they should get done AND we know that we aren’t going to just magically create more time, then the answer to being frenzied and out of time all the time is managing our time differently.
Managing our time, I’ve found and seen in excellent and productive educators, is the difference between running around and putting out fires and PURPOSEFUL work in our schools. Let me give you an example:
Say that you’ve SCHEDULED your prep time for 7:00 a.m. – 7:45 a.m. (of course I know you need more time than this, but this is one chunk of time you’ve scheduled). You’ve actually WRITTEN IT INTO your calendar – so it’s a date! And along comes Suzy Q and she LOOOOVES to talk…and talk…and talk. Typically you shoot the breeze with Suzy Q and when you’re done, you think, “Ugh! I just wasted all of that time and I got nothing done!”. (Does this sound at all familiar?)
You are now behind – and in “putting out fires” mode…you’re in reactionary mode because now you feel under the gun.
(On a side note: “putting out fires” and “under the gun” – -neither SOUND real fun, do they?)
So let’s rewrite this scenario:
You have scheduled time from 7:00 – 7:45 a.m. to prep for your upcoming lessons tomorrow and Wednesday. Suzy Q comes in and says, “Hey girl/guy! What’s up?” and settles in for a nice, long chat…about NOTHING!
You can now say, “Hey Suz! Whew – I’m really busy! I’ve scheduled myself for some prep right now…go grab your books and come prep with me!” or “Hey Suz! You know, my schedule is really hounding me right now…I’ve got my prep time for tomorrow and Wednesday right now – let’s sit together at lunch and get all caught up!”
It’s these kinds of conversations that not only allow US to stay on track, but put other time-wasters (people and tasks) on notice that we aren’t messing around anymore!
When we’re under the gun and pushing the envelope, we are REACTING. And oftentimes our most important tasks get pushed to the bottom of the list. And both of these things make us feel like we’re being managed, not managing.
And I don’t know about you, but I want to be THE MANAGER, not THE MANAGED!
So…what is this all about?
- It’s about taking control of the time you have and getting down to business on the things that are important to our delivery of excellent instruction
- It’s about not being in reactionary, “putting out fires” mode – because that mode means we’re not doing our best work
- It’s about organizing our environment so that we are optimized for doing our best, being our best and producing our best WITH THE TIME WE’RE GIVEN
- It’s about having a life where the bag of grading doesn’t come home with you every single night because you’ve managed time poorly
The cool thing? Time management is also contagious for your kids! They need to see it too!
So…where will you start? Leave a comment below and inspire someone else to get started NOW!