Below I have outlined 2 steps in teaching elementary aged students how to answer questions they have during reading. These strategies are very helpful when it comes to answering comprehension questions on tests. I spend a good amount of time practicing how to search for answers in the text. I spend even more time practicing how to make inferences from what we have read. This is a very difficult concept. I have also displayed the common core standards that are covered in these lessons.
ELACC2RL1: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
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.
ELACC2RF4: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
Finding Answers in Text:
Refer back to the questioning posters you made in previous lessons. Model for students how to search for the answers to your questions in the text. Answer, together, all the questions that can be found right in the text making sure to point out the exact parts in the text that answer the questions. Jot the answers to the questions in notebooks. Allow for guided practice, buddy practice, and independent practice.
Explain that sometimes the author does not directly answer our questions in the text, but we can infer the answers using what the author did say and what we already know. You can write the equation:
Look for the questions on the chart that could not be answered in the text. Have students create an H-Chart with headings: What we read, What we know, Inference. In this chart students can jot down the clues from the story relating to the question. Model and help students find these clues in the text. Next jot what we already know about this topic that may help us answer the question. Then make an inference to answer the question. Practice with students, and allow for partner and independent practice. Reiterate that students should always make sure that their inference makes sense.
**Tip: When teaching students how to answer questions from their reading, make sure you guide them into finding their answers. Try hard not to point things out. One way I make sure I do this is by helping students find a word or two from the question that they can look for in the text to help them find a good spot to start looking for their answer. Once we find the spot in the book, we remind ourselves of which question word is in the question and what type of answer we’ll need. Then we search for the answer together. Once we find what we think is a good answer, we read the question again and ask ourselves if our answer makes sense. I don’t tell them if they are right or wrong, they need to decide if their answer actually answers the question and makes sense.