When I first saw the changes in the kinds of Text-Dependent questions my students would be responding to, I felt just like the guy in this picture. How will I teach this? What strategies do I need to teach? What are the big ideas? Where will I find the time? How will the kids do this? Why, why, why? Those questions and an assortment of thoughts which can't be repeated were going through my head.
Buckling down, I introduced my students to close reading, and analyzing how to read a prompt. And slowly but surely, they started to get the hang of what they needed to do. This didn't all happen magically or quickly. We've been working at this for two years now, and each year has been modified, based on my students' feedback and where I see gaps.
Don't know how to restate a prompt? Let's work on that.
Can't figure out what the answer to the prompt is? (This is ALWAYS the hardest part!) Let's work on this together.
What I do, and what resources I use will come in a later post.
When students would question me, I'd go on a mini-rant about how important it is to analyze what you read AND then articulate those thoughts in writing. How that was important for them to do as bright students and future employees. Whether they chose to go to college or not, their ability to write well would help them in almost every career.
But it wasn't until I was working with our Literacy Coordinator on a workshop we're leading this on Text-Dependent Analysis that I began to explore the real reason behind why we're having kids do this. What's the research behind why this is important?
Shamefully, there's little on this. Google "text dependent analysis" or "text dependent question" and you get the how-to's, but not the reasons why. Until I discovered this little nuggest from OnHand Schools in Pittsburgh, PA. I have no affiliation with them, nor do I know if the work they do is good or not. But they were the only resource I found that provided additional information for me to understand the "why" behind my teaching this, and further supported the reasons I gave my students.
Why is this important? One of the reasons students drop out of college because the reading is too complex for them. Students entering college need to analyze and synthesize the information they read. The more we practice reading complex texts with students now, requiring them to be critical thinkers, the more they'll understand what they're reading, later. The same is true in the workforce, college degree or not.
But there's more to it than that. Open-ended questions of old asked kids to use their background knowledge. What if a student had no experience with the topic at hand? TDA's ask kids to ONLY use the text, and that levels the playing field.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need to teach this and teach it well.
One of my students wrote this at the end of the year, "Thank you for helping me work on TDA's, I didn't always like doing it, but I know I'm a stronger writer because of it."