The Power of Questions

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SWBAT to ask questions about the illustrations in a literary text.

Big Idea

Questions are a great tool to motivate discussion and create excitement for reading.


10 minutes

Summary and Context

I am diving into the CCSS with my students. This is the first year for them and because of that, I am starting at the beginning. Today, I am introducing my students to the first standard which is about asking and answering questions.

In teaching my students skills, I also seek to teach them awareness of them as readers. So I begin by asking them, “What do good readers do?” I will create circle map with their responses.

Then, I will review the type of question words readers use to ask questions. I will remind them that when good readers ask questions they use both the illustrations and text/words to form questions.

After that, my students will have the opportunity to work collaboratively to ask questions about the story we will read this week. Lastly, we gather back on the rug to debrief.

Lesson Opening:

With students on the rug, I share the objective. Today, I review the technique of Think-Pair-Share. This is a technique for discussion that we use as a school. I am attaching a couple of documents that could be helpful for those who have never heard of this technique.

Think Pair Share Document


This technique allows everyone to share in a safe space and allows everyone to be heard.

I ask my students to face their partner. I ask them to sit knee-to-knee and face each other eye-to-eye. Then, I ask them to choose Partner A and Partner B. After, I tell all those who are Partner A they will be asking the question first. I say the question, "What do readers do?” I ask them to repeat with me and then Partner A begins the conversation. I give them a few moments to share.

Then, a few share out loud. I transcribe their responses on the circle map.

Next, I introduce the question words: who, what, where, when, why, and how. After I hold up each word, I ask the students to clap out each word to show how many syllables. (I do this to give them a concrete experience of the words.) I also ask the students to give me examples of sentences with each word. I take 3-4 examples.

Independent Work

15 minutes

Now my students sit at their tables ready to practice asking questions. I teach English Language Learners and for that reason I made copies of the story. They benefit from concrete experiences. They will be writing their questions on post-its. This makes the task an interactive and fun experience.

I start by having them read the question I write on the white board:

•“What questions can we ask about the illustrations and the text on our page?”

I review what I mean by illustrations and the text to make sure they understand what they will be doing.

I remind that if they cannot think of anything, they can start by writing, “I wonder…” on their yellow post-its.

Today, they will be working with their table partner. I ask them to take out their post-its they keep in their pencil boxes. I pass out their copies and they get started on asking questions about the story, Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea

This is the beginning of the year and I am setting routines about how to proceed. One management tool I use is a timer. I make sure they see me set the timer. In this way I am making them aware of the amount of time they have to accomplish the task.

As, I walk around I pay attention to what kind of questions they are asking. I want to know if they are asking questions about the text and/or the illustrations. I am wondering about words and/or phrases that catch their attention. 

Some students will need help with staying on task. Others will need help with how to formulate questions. I will  need to remind them how to end their questions too.

Here are some of their questions:

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

Here is a compilation of their work:

Who Are You Mr. Putter?


12 minutes

I ring my chime and tell them to put their hands on head. I call the students back to the rug and make sure they are ready to come back in an orderly manner.

I say, “Today’s lesson was to give you the opportunity to work in pairs and form questions using the illustrations and text of the selection you will be reading. I like to hear some of your questions."

I have some share. As they share, I have those in the audience listen for the question words. I have a few share out loud what question words they heard their peers use in forming questions. I proceed with this process until all groups have shared.

Lastly, I remind students that we are not answering questions at this time. This is a time to listen. My students need much practice with formulating questions and this is one way I help build this skill. 

After all groups share, I pose the following question:

•How can we answer these questions?

I am looking for them to say that these questions can be answered by reading the text, which we will do in the next few days.

Bringing the students to the rug, also allows me to bring closure to the lesson. I like for them to reflect on their learning and so I ask, 

•Why do we ask questions?

I give them time to think and have some share.

In conclusion, I review the question words as I point to them on the easel. I tell them I can't wait to to read the story to answer their questions. (I am intentionally building excitement for the story.) 

Lastly, I ask them to put their thumbs up if we achieved the objective of the lesson.