Lessons about Asking, Answering Questions

Question mark. Photo courtesy of the Italian voice, Flickr.

In Asking Questions, All the Time we discussed how students should learn to pose questions before, during, and after reading. The lessons and activities highlighted in this article do just that. Teachers of primary students make use of questioning strategies during read alouds, while teachers of older students first model how to ask and answer questions, then support students as they practice the strategy in small groups and then individually. While most lessons refer to specific texts, they can be modified for use with any text or content area.

Questioning Lesson Plans (Grades K-5)
This web page includes four activities that help students learn to ask questions while they read. Activities can be used with any text and in contexts outside reading class.

Questioning the Text
This article, written by Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension to Enhance Understanding author Stephanie Harvey, describes a four-step instructional sequence that models the questioning strategy for students.

Guided Reading Strategies with Henry and Mudge (Grades 1-3)
In this lesson, students read Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night as a whole group. During the whole group instruction, the teacher introduces the story and models a questioning strategy. In later sessions, students apply the questioning strategy they have learned and reread for fluency. An extension describes how students can get additional practice with the strategy in small guided-reading groups. While this lesson focuses on Henry and Mudge books, other books can also be used. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

Questioning: A Comprehension Strategy for Small-Group Guided Reading (Grades 3-5)
In this lesson, the teacher explains the difference between thin (factual) and thick (inferential) questions and then models how to compose question webs by thinking aloud while reading. Students observe how to gather information about the topic and add it to question webs in the form of answers or additional questions. Students practice composing thin and thick questions and monitor their comprehension by using question webs in small-group reading.  This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts: 1, 3, 7, 11.

Guided Comprehension: Self-Questioning Using Question-Answer Relationships (Grades 3-6)
This lesson introduces students to the comprehension strategy of self-questioning. Students learn the types of question-answer relationships (QARs), identify where and how answers can be found, and demonstrate their understanding of the strategy as they analyze The Story of Ruby Bridges and generate new questions about the text. They go on to practice the strategy in small groups, applying it to texts chosen from a suggested booklist (or other books substituted by the teacher). The components of the QAR strategy are reinforced through activities in three student-facilitated comprehension centers. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts: 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 11.

QARs + Tables = Successful Comprehension of Math Word Problems (Grades 3-5)
In this lesson, students apply the question-answer relationship (QAR) strategy to word problems that refer to data displayed in a table. While this lesson is focused on solving word problems, it also may be helpful when teaching students to analyze scientific data found in charts, tables, diagrams, and graphs. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

This article was written by Jessica Fries-Gaither. Jessica is an education resource specialist at The Ohio State University and project director of Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears. She has taught in elementary and middle school settings. Email Jessica at beyondweather@msteacher.org.

Copyright July 2011 – The Ohio State University. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1034922. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This work is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons license.

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