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Text-Dependent Questions, Grades K-5

  • Title:Text-Dependent Questions, Grades K-5: Pathways to Close and Critical Reading
  • Author:Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, Heather Anderson, Marisol Thayre
  • Publication Date:September 2014
  • Grade Level:K-5
  • ISBN:9781483331317
  • Publisher:Corwin Press

Fisher & Frey’s answer to close and critical reading

No doubt since the cave paintings of prehistoric times, humans have asked questions to make sense of the message. So what could possibly be new about posing questions about text?

Plenty . . . and with TDQ, Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey reveal it all. After one quick read, you will have learned all the very best ways to use text-dependent questions as scaffolds during close reading . . . and the big understandings they can yield, especially when executed the Fisher and Frey way. But that’s just for starters. Fisher and Frey also include illustrative video, actual texts and questions, examples from across content areas, and an online professional learning guide, making the two volumes of TDQ a potent professional development tool across all of K-12.

The genius of TDQ is the way Fisher and Frey break down the process into four cognitive pathways that help teachers “organize the journey through a text” and frame an extended discussion around it. Step by step, this approach ensures that in every close reading lesson, students are guided to consider explicit and implied meanings, and deeply analyze and appreciate various aspects of a text, especially those that may be challenging or confusing.

Here’s how the four inter-related processes play out, with every why and every how answered:

  • What does the text say? (general understandings and key details)
  • How does the text work? (vocabulary, structure, and author’s craft)
  • What does the text mean? (logical inferences and intertextual connections)
  • What does the text inspire you to do? (write, investigate, present, debate)

The cool thing? These questions ignite students’ engagement and discussion because they strategically lead students to a place of understanding where explicit and implied meanings and interpretations can be debated. Far from being overly literal or teacher-led, the questioning framework Fisher and Frey advance enhances the quality of student talk and idea-generation. All in all, there’s no better resource to cultivate students’ capacity for independent reading and incisive thinking.

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Author Bios

Douglas Fisher is professor of language and literacy education in the Department of Teacher Education at San Diego State University and a classroom teacher at Health Sciences High & Middle College. He is the recipient of an International Reading Association Celebrate Literacy Award, the Farmer Award for excellence in writing from the National Council of Teachers of English, as well as a Christa McAuliffe Award for excellence in teacher education. He has published numerous articles on reading and literacy, differentiated instruction, and curriculum design, as well as books, such as Creating Literacy-rich Schools for Adolescents (with Gay Ivey), Checking for Understanding (with Nancy Frey), Better Learning Through Structured Teaching (with Nancy Frey) and Content-area Conversations (with Carol Rothenberg), Text Complexity (2/e) (with Nancy Frey) and Text-Dependent Questions, Grades 6-12 and Grades K-5 (with Nancy Frey, Heather Anderson, Marisol Thayre).

Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Literacy in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University. She is a recipient of the Christa McAuliffe award for excellence in teacher education from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. She has co-authored several books on literacy such as Teaching Visual Literacy and Checking for Understanding (with Douglas Fisher), Text Complexity (2/e) (with Doug Fisher) and Text-Dependent Questions, Grades 6-12 and Grades K-5 (with Dou Fisher, Heather Anderson, Marisol Thayre).


She was a co-recipient (with Doug Fisher) of NCTE’s 2004 Kate and Paul Farmer award for outstanding writing for their article, “Using Graphic Novels, Anime, and The Internet In an Urban High School,” published in The English Journal. She teaches a variety of courses in elementary and secondary literacy in content area instruction and supporting students with diverse learning needs.

Heather Anderson has a wide range of experience teaching at both the elementary and high school levels. She earned her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from San Diego State University, is BCLAD certified, has extensive experience in staff development, and spent part of her career as an elementary math specialist. Heather has shared her passion for education both nationally and internationally while presenting at conferences and consulting at individual school sites emphasizing the use of Gradual Release of Responsibility, differentiated instruction, close reading and collaborative grouping. Heather currently teaches English and higher level Spanish at Health Sciences High and Middle College, a charter school in San Diego.

Marisol Thayre has a multifaceted range of teaching experience, from the middle and high school to university level. She earned her M.A. in English and Composition from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is BCLAD and Leading Edge certified, and has experience teaching a large scope of students from various backgrounds. Marisol is especially interested in how students use different types of media to develop their own expertise as writers. Recently, Marisol has begun to share her knowledge with other teachers across the country as a presenter on Gradual Release of Responsibility, differentiated instruction, close reading and collaborative grouping. Marisol currently teaches English at Health Sciences High and Middle College, a charter school in San Diego.

Make sure to watch this video of Doug:

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