This module is for Middle School Activity 2

Activity 2 – Principles in Practice: Passage 1

To put these principles into practice, you are going to dig into a story by Sandra Cisneros entitled “Eleven.”In order to fully understand the skill of creating text-dependent questions, you will begin with an examination of the text as a whole. Ultimately, this story is about a young girl’s perspective on getting older and how it can present many conflicting feelings, some of them very negative. The author tries to show these conflicting feelings by taking us inside the head of the main character (narrator) and using many images to refer to all of her bad feelings. Her sense-of-self is very poor and nothing seems to be able to make her feel any better.

The story “Eleven” was originally published in 1992, in Woman Hollering Creek:  And Other Stories.  It is available on the two websites listed below. It is recommended that you download and print the story and have it available to you as you complete this module.

HCC Learning Webopens in new window

Academia Edu, Cisneros, Sandra / "Eleven" [short story] (1991)opens in new window
On this site, the story is part of a curriculum unit. You will need to scroll to page 4 to begin reading the story.

For purposes of this module, we will be referring to the version on the HCC Learning Web site.

Now, let's dig into several excerpts in order to develop, apply and practice our understanding of text-dependent questions.

Passage 1:

Begin reading – Go to HCC Learning Webopens in new window and begin reading the story. 

End reading - At the end of the fourth paragraph – with the sentence, “That's the way it is.”

In this opening scene from the story, the middle school reader should be directed to the words and phrases, such as the ones below, that illustrate how the author uses figurative language to represent the main character’s (narrator’s) feelings about being eleven.

  • Stupid
  • scared
  • like an onion
  • like the rings inside a tree trunk...
  • like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other

Now, to generate a text-dependent question for this passage, think back to the steps for developing good text-dependent questions. Step One requires that students focus on core understandings. Additionally, remember to anchor your questions in the standards. Consider the standards below and the highlighted key words from each standard that must be considered when generating your text-dependent question. Step Two allows students to build confidence with a question that is specific and manageable at the beginning of the text.

Please note: This particular piece of text is designated for grade 6 based on quantitative (Lexile) and qualitative measures. The text is tied to grade-specific standards from the Common Core State Standards, however, the principles with regard to generating text-dependent questions in this middle school module are NOT grade specific; rather, these principles are applicable to ALL middle school grade levels.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1
    Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

In a Word document or other text editor, based on the guidelines above, create a text-dependent question for the first passage you just read.

Check your understanding

Now, check your understanding of what would make a good initial text-dependent question for this passage.

When constructing text-dependent questions, you should have a good understanding of the kinds of responses to expect from students and a target response that best demonstrates close reading, use of accurate, relevant text support, and a deep understanding of the core ideas in the text.