Teaching Strategy

Text Treasure Hunt

Community Inquiry
Grade Level


Student teams look for clues and respond to questions that help them identify details, organization, inferences and comparisons in the central text.


After reading


Text treasure hunts reinforce high-level thinking, listening, speaking and reading comprehension skills. The strategy is a fun way for students to solve problems and give each other directions as they search for text clues.


Select several central texts.
  1. Strategically assign students to groups of up to four.
  2. Give each group a different text to read.
  3. Identify 8-12 text-dependent questions from the Treasure Hunt Questions list to highlight during the treasure hunt. Select questions that could apply to all the texts. Discuss questions with students to ensure understanding. Press students to reference textual evidence.
  4. Provide time for students to read the central text together. One or more skilled readers should fluently read the text aloud to the group, while other group members follow along silently. 
  5. Have students discuss the central text in their groups and search the text for answers to the questions.
  6. After a designated amount of time (10-15 minutes), mix team members.
  7. Have students compare answers to the common questions with their new group members. Repeat 2-3 times to provide opportunity for students to compare answers to the common questions across several texts.
  8. Instruct students to return to their original small group, compare notes and answer the treasure hunt questions using what they learned during the group mix-up.

English Language Learners

Questioning a central text is great for helping English language learners improve comprehension. Making students “experts” on certain questions is also an effective way of supporting community inquiry and building confidence.

To modify this strategy, focus on lower-level application questions such as:
  • How would you use…?
  • What elements would you choose to change about…?
  • Can you list the parts of…?
  • Do you agree with [character’s] actions?
  • What is your opinion of…?
  • What choice would you have made?

Connection to anti-bias education

Text treasure hunts rely heavily on speaking and listening, analyzing and critical thinking skills to improve reading comprehension. Students work together to make meaning, find supporting details and interpret what is being read. Working with multiple groups requires students to share and teach what they understand from the reading. When receiving new information, students must also exhibit positive and respectful active listening. These skills, integrated into instruction, contribute to both anti-bias education and improved literacy goals.

Sample Text Treasure Hunt questions:

Select questions from the list below for Text Treasure Hunt. Select no more than 2-4 questions per category at a time. The following questions are applied to a variety of texts.

Skills Demonstrated:
  • Use information
  • Use methods, concepts, theories in new situations
  • Solve problems using required skills or knowledge
Skills Demonstrated:
  • Seeing patterns
  • Organization of parts
  • Recognition of hidden meanings
  • Identification of components
Skill Demonstrated:
  • Use Old ideas to create new ones
  • Generalize from given facts
  • Relate knowledge from several areas
  • Predict, draw conclusions
Skills Demonstrated:
  • Compare and discriminate between ideas
  • Assess value of theories, presentations
  • Make choices based on reasoned argument
How would you use …?
What examples can you find to…?
How would you solve ___ using what you have learned?
How would you organize ___ to show…?
How would you show your understanding?
What approach would you use to …?
How would you apply what you learned to develop?
What other way would you plan to..?
What would result if…?
Can you make use of the facts to…?
What elements would you choose to change…?
What facts would you select to show…?
What questions would you ask in an interview with…?
What are the parts of …?
How is ____ related to ____?
Why do you think…?
What is the theme of…?
What motivates [character]…?
Can you list the parts…?
What inference can you make…?
What conclusion can you draw..?
How would you classify…?
How would you categorize…?
Can you identify the different parts…?
What evidence can you find…?
What is the relationship between…?
Can you make a distinction between…?
Do you agree with actions…?
What is your opinion of …?
How would you prove…?
Can you asses the value or importance of …?
Would it be better if…?
Why did [character] choose…?
What would you recommend…?
How would you rate the …?
How would you evaluate …?
How could you determine…?
How would you evaluate…?
How could you determine…?
What choice would you have made?
What would you select…?
How would you prioritize…?
What judgment would you make about…?
Based on what you know, how would you explain…?
What information would you use to support the view…?
How would you justify…?
What data was used to make the conclusion…?
Why was it better that …?
How would you prioritize the facts…?
Group of adults listening to one person speaking.

Apply for Learning for Justice's Inaugural Professional Learning Institutes!

Join us this summer in Mississippi and Alabama for low-cost, weeklong, place-based, immersive learning experiences that support educators' capacities to implement social justice education. Applications are open now until April 16.

Learn More!