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Literacy 7-12

Systems Change
Literacy 7-12 > Strategies > Prompts & Questions

Prompts & Questions

Overview

Providing guiding prompts and questions for students to use when reading or participating in discussions deepens their understanding of texts and gives them space to question and grapple with issues of power, justice, and equity. Depending on the types of prompts, they can raise Socratic questions about the purpose, validity, evidence, assumptions, meaning, and perspectives of the texts.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this teacher empowers her students to share their perspective on a challenging discussion prompt. Students must cite evidence from multiple texts to support their answers as they share their arguments and questions in a Socratic seminar. With time to plan and supports like graphic organizers, the teacher has meaningfully designed different ways for students to engage in the process and share their views.

  • It is important for teachers to be selective and intentional in the prompts they ask and also to allow students to ask their own questions. Open-ended prompts can serve as a guide to probe students' thinking and direct their Attention to specific elements in a text. Questions like "Who is the ideal audience?", "Where does this text come from?", and "Who gets to speak and who doesn't?" focus on the purpose, author, and voices in the texts. However, questions like "Is the conclusion reached credible?" or "What is taken for granted here?" examine themes around validity, assumptions, and bias. All of these examples can empower students to manipulate and engage with texts to develop their Critical Literacy and Reasoning.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Starting at 1:35, see how products like ThinkCerca use prompts and questions to push students to reflect on what they have learned and to engage with a digital text during a mini-lesson. The prompts allow for students to make connections, summarize portions, and assess their understanding. This allows students to engage more deeply with the content while also giving helpful feedback to the teacher on student progress.

  • Products can embed text-dependent questions for students to critically think and question the texts they read. These can be in the form of an annotation or before or after a reading. Targeting specific Disciplinary Literacy questions like "How does the historical context shape this text?" or "How does the evidence support the author's claim?" can encourage students to read like a content expert.