Teaching Strategy

Lifting the Text

Community Inquiry
Grade Level


Students choose an important sentence or phrase from the central text and participate in a structured class discussion about the “lifted” text.


After reading



Lifting the Text engages all participants in focused discussion of a text and encourages students to search for answers as a community of learners. The strategy turns responsibility for learning over to the students, and creates a safe place for diverse expression, conversation, consensus and shared understanding. Guiding questions encourage students to support their text-dependent discussion with specific phrases or sentences from the text.


Select a central text for students to read independently, in small groups or as a whole class.
  1. Organize students into groups of no more than four and provide each group with chart paper.
  2. Frame a question, challenge or problem related to the central text. Ask students to reflect silently on the question, challenge or problem.
  3. Have students identify a phrase, sentence or group of sentences from the central text that addresses or responds to the question, challenge or problem.
  4. Ask students to discuss their group’s selections and how they address the question, challenge or problem.
  5. Have each group designate one student to act as the recorder and write the group’s phrase or sentence on the chart paper.
  6. Have one student per group act as the reporter and share out the group’s ideas with the whole class.
  7. Before the groups share their lifted texts, remind students to respect the opinions of others and to use appropriate language when expressing their ideas.
  8. Ask a reporter from one team to share the phrase or sentence the group chose in response to the question, challenge or problem and why. Have the reporter elaborate using textual evidence to show how the lifted text addresses the question, challenge or problem. 
  9. Invite the reporter to call on another reporter to share textual evidence that has not already been shared.
  10. Chart the responses throughout the class discussion. Halfway through the discussion, ask students to identify and summarize the points provided by the reporters. Repeat at the end of the discussion.

English language learners

Lifting the Text teaches English language learners to identify, select and listen for information necessary to discuss questions, challenges or problems found in texts. The structure and peer support built into this strategy benefit students who might otherwise struggle due to lower-level proficiency.

Connection to anti-bias education

Lifting the Text asks students to examine roles and responsibilities involved in discussions. Focusing on the central text provides context for students to engage with their reading, improving comprehension. Independent thinking time is built in to ensure that students have the opportunity to self-evaluate before sharing out to the whole class. The steps ensure safe opportunities for students to independently and collectively engage in meaningful discussion.

Group of adults listening to one person speaking.

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