Text Dependent Questions and the Role of the Reader, Class, and Teacher

By Gina Fugnitto | Categories: Reading

Recently, I read an article by Enrique Puig and challenged you to engage in collegial conversations on the topic of text dependent questions. I continued to consider the role of reader, class, and teacher in the process of text dependent questions.

What is the role of the reader?

Puig shares that “the text in absence of a questioning reader is just words on a page until the reader transforms them.” All too often the “right answer” overshadows what the reader might bring to the conversation. I strive for a classroom where the teacher facilitates conversations that provide the opportunity for students to contextualize their thoughts. Students’ thinking is honored when they are asked: “What in the text got you thinking that?” or “Tell me more about your thinking?”

What is the role of the other students/class?

For Puig it is the conversation or public voice leading to Lev Vygotsky’s belief that knowledge is socially constructed. Puig says the “acquisition of language is a gateway into questioning and learning.” With this in mind, I consider the aspects of collaboration-speaking and listening-and how I can support the facilitation of learning. This means I have to strategically plan opportunities for conversations to occur, for student-to-student discourse, and for wondering and hypothesizing to be valued. This also means I have to give up any lingering hopes of “being the giver of knowledge.”

What is the role of the teacher?

Puig concludes that “cultivating and developing the ability for students to engage in critical text dependent conversations” is an essential aspect of teaching. I conclude planning is key! I have to plan how to teach for comprehending, how to support students to thinking critically across a text or texts, and how to use questions as a tool for thinking. Text dependent questions are not the outcome, but a way of comprehending or making meaning of the text(s) for further use.

Puig, E.A., “Text Dependent Questioning: Stop The Insanity!”, Florida English Journal: Literature in the 21st Century Classroom. Florida Council of Teachers of English (2013, Fall).