On the surface, a text-dependent question (TDQ) is simply a question whose answer can be derived directly from information in the supporting text. However, for text-dependent questions to be an effective teaching tool, teachers must create meaningful questions that enhance learning, rather than simply require students to repeat back information. So, how do we create good text-dependent questions?

1.Identify the purpose.

Before writing your questions, it is important to determine what you expect the students to achieve. To start, review the desired outcomes of the lesson. What do you want students to learn from the text? What standards are you addressing in the lesson? Use these key objectives to guide the development of your questions.

2.Determine the sequence.

When analyzing a text, start with more straightforward text-dependent questions that help with comprehension. Begin by identifying unfamiliar words and challenging segments of text that might hinder students’ understanding. Focus your initial questions on tackling these obstacles, and then introduce additional questions that address more complex topics, such as themes or points of view.

3.Write the questions.

To avoid writing questions that rely on simple text recall, focus on designing questions that help students make inferences using evidence from the text. For example, the question, “Why did the author choose to use the word claimed and not the word said in the first sentence?” guides the students to make inferences about the author’s intentions, while also focusing on word choice. In addition, include prompts that direct students back to the text such as, “Use evidence from the text to support your answer.” Finally, review your questions to ensure the answers can be determined by referring directly back to the text. Text-dependent questions should not rely on students’ prior knowledge or personal experiences.

Here are a few test-dependent question stems to get you started:

  • What is the meaning of the word _____ as it is used in the _____ paragraph? What are other words the author could have used instead of _____? (language)
  • The word _____ has multiple meanings. Which words in the text helped you figure out the meaning of the word _____? (language)
  • How does the _____ sentence on page _____ contribute to the development of plot in the story? (plot)
  • How does the author use _____’s dialogue to express his/her point of view? (point of view)
  • What evidence does the author provide to support the point that _____? (argument and claim)
  • In the sentence, “_____” what does the word “_____” refer to? Why is it important to know this in order to understand the sentence? (inference)
  • What is the main idea on page _____? What specific details from the text support your answer? (main idea)
  • What did you learn about _____ in the text? What words did the author use to tell you this? (character analysis)
  • What conflicting evidence about ________ is presented in the texts? (comparing texts)
  • What is the purpose of ________? How does this text feature help the reader? (Text structure/features)

Once your questions are done, let the text analysis begin!

Click here to download FREE sample lessons using TDQs!