In this post I have outlined 4 steps to teaching students how to ask questions during reading. This would be geared toward an elementary level student. I have included the common core standards that are covered as well.
ELACC2RL1: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
ELACC2RF4: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
ELACC2RL10: By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
1. Questions Poster:
The first thing I always do when I teach questioning in reading is make a poster explaining what each question means. Many of my students get confused as to what the question is actually asking for. I draw a big question mark on chart paper and put Who, What, When, Where, Why, How around the question mark. Then we discuss what each question word means and the type of answer we need to give. Who: name a person (character), What: explain what happened, When: time, date, year, day, Where: name a place, Why: explain why (reason) something happened, How: explain how something was done. Give examples of each, especially question words that need to be explained like what, why, and how. You can read a book and have students practice answering each question for that book. Students can also read with a buddy: one practices asking questions about the text, and the other can answer the questions.
2. Asking Questions Before, During, and After Reading:
Create a chart with 3 columns: Before, During, and After. Choose a short story to share with students. Look at the title and pictures and allow students to start forming some “before” reading questions. Jot them down in the chart. Start reading the text and stop throughout to record some questions students have “during” reading. When the book is finished have students jot some questions they have “after” reading. Review the chart together focusing on the types of questions they asked referring to the Questions Chart above.
3. Use What You Know and Create a Picture:
Explain that your prior knowledge of something can help you ask questions. Choose a short book to share with students with a setting or place that students may have prior knowledge about. Example: If you choose a book about the ocean, students may be able to ask questions such as, “Will there be dolphins in this book? Will we be exploring the Atlantic Ocean?” Thinking about what you already know about a topic can help you create mental pictures, which may lead to some questions about the text. You can model asking questions based on what you already know about the subject you are reading about and share how your mental images helped you create some questions. Then have students practice with a buddy and independently.
4. Thoughtful Questions:
Choose a book you have previously read and have the chart of before, during, and after questions. Discuss the difference between a thoughtful question and a question that doesn’t help you better understand the story. Example: A thoughtful question will help you understand what is happening in the story: Why are the cows writing a letter to the farmer? Not thoughtful: What is the farmer’s name? The farmer’s name is not important, because it will not help you understand what is happening and why. Go through the chart of questions the students previously created and pick out the thoughtful and purposeful questions to focus on. Have students continue practicing writing thoughtful questions with a partner.
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