No Series: Helping Students Write Text-Dependent Questions

Helping Students Write Text-Dependent Questions

Lesson Objective: Use the text to write discussion questions
Grades 9-12 / ELA / Discussion


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. What are the components of the formula Ms. Wessling gives her students?
  2. How could this strategy be adapted for other subject areas?
  3. How could you use this strategy in your own classroom?


  • Private message to Cade Patterson

The mini lesson before the actual lesson and assignment is a great way to get the students involved. It also helps set them up for their future assignments so that they can succeed.  Ms. Wessling’s videos are full of many great ideas for new teachers like myself.

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  • Private message to Regina Johnson

I get frustrated sometimes with by my lack of ideas when comes to discussing a work we are reading. I try to guide students to look beyond the plot, but it often seems like I'm doing all of the work. I think it's a great idea to have the students craft the questions for literary discussions.  The addition of giving them a few templates to choose from also encourages them to form questions with depth. 

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  • Private message to Raven Groom
I loved that the teacher provided the students with a mini lesson. It gave the students a better opportunity to understand the lesson.
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  • Helping Students Write Text-Dependent Questions Transcript
    Sarah Brown W.: The provocateur group is going to work to devise several questions

    Helping Students Write Text-Dependent Questions Transcript
    Sarah Brown W.: The provocateur group is going to work to devise several questions pretty quickly, but I am going to ask each group to submit at least one question that you think is important to your author and to the story.At the beginning of the lesson, I did a mini lesson on how to use text from the story in order to write this question.I want to kind of give you a formula. You can start by saying something like, "In O'Conner, she ... " and then we've got an active verb. What are some of our good verbs?
    Speaker 2: Implies.
    Sarah Brown W.: Implies.
    Speaker 2: Presents.
    Sarah Brown W.: Presents.
    Speaker 2: Brings out.
    Sarah Brown W.: Brings out.
    Speaker 3: Proves.
    Sarah Brown W.: Proves. So, we've got a good verb, and then you're going to say what that is. You can also use something more specific here. "In 'Old Man', Marquez writes." So, implicit in your question is a quote from the text. And then you have what he writes, and then you form your question after that. If you're not using a specific quote, you can also use a paraphrase. In Jimi Hendrix, you could say something about the character, right? The father ... you can kind of paraphrase something very specific that happens, and then you move to your question from there.
    Speaker 4: In the misfit, he says, "Jesus has thrown everything off balance. Do you think that that's a good thing?"
    Speaker 5: Lexi presents the conflict of view points in the lines, "Only the good die young," how does this conflict outline morality and heroism?
    Sarah Brown W.: As you start to hone this skill, you don't need to follow the formula anymore, you'll be able to craft your own questions.

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School Details

Johnston Senior High School
6501 Northwest 62nd Avenue
Johnston IA 50131
Population: 1548

Data Provided By:



Sarah Brown Wessling
English Language Arts / 10 11 12 / Teacher


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