Asking the Right Questions with Song of the Trees

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SWBAT to understand why we ask high level questions by working in groups and revising their questions.

Big Idea

Are you asking the right questions?

Lesson Opener

20 minutes

In my lesson openers I always have a "connect" in which I connect students' thinking about yesterday's lesson to today's lesson. I then have a "teach" in which I model for students the lesson of the day and also have them try it out. When I think about my modeling I use three categories; skill, strategy and process. I model by stating the skill to the students, then giving them a strategy in which to use the skill, followed by the process to try out the strategy.

Connect:We have completed two unit on explanatory essay; today we are going to start a new unit on Literary Essay in order to deepen our thinking about reading and essay writing. In this unit we have to figure out how to raise the level of our questioning as we are reading. 

Teach: I will say, “Today we are going to practice the skill of asking meaningful questions. You are going to practice the strategy of annotating the text, by asking questions as you read. The process we will use is as follows

1) Read two different kinds of texts

2) Ask myself: What questions do I have about what I am reading?

3) Jot down my best questions.”

You are going to read the two different kids of texts, one is a presentation about African American in the Great Depression which will give you background about the other text “Song-of-the-Trees,” by Mildred Taylor. As I show you the presentation (*, I want you to practice the skill, strategy and process by writing down at least two questions. 

I am not going to give them any hints as to what the questions could be; this is a form of assessment to determine their level of questioning. I will simply have them write five question on the Passing Notes handout.

After they write down two questions about the presentation, I will move on to "Song of the Trees."

*I edited the Prezi ( without the discussion questions and the lynching piece. The piece about lynching is a bigger discussion to have with students, and should not be glossed over. Therefore for this lesson, I have cut it out.

* The AAA mentioned in the presentation is the “Agricultural Adjustment Act.” This act of the New Deal asked people to destroy their crops so there was less supply and more demand (thus helping farmers earn more money). Since many African Americans were sharecroppers, this kicked them off of their land since it was ruined.

* The CCC is the Civilian Conservation Corps which provided jobs for “unskilled laborers that related to the conservation and development of natural resources” owned by the government.



Active Engagement

10 minutes

Passing Notes

After students have written down their five questions, they are going to do the "passing notes" part of the activity. In this activity, students will take the Depths of Knowledge Chart and Depths of Knowledge Sample Questions and write comments about their classmates' questions.

Independent Practice

10 minutes

Independent Practice:

I will then have student revise their questions in order to raise the level of depth. Students will share out their best question with the class.

For the next day, we will continue to read “Song of the Trees” with their higher level question in mind. 


5 minutes

Closing: I believe that the end of the lesson should be an assessment of the days’ learning; therefore it should be independent work. I always end class with an “exit ticket” in which students write down the response to a question.

I will have them reflect by asking them to write down and then share as a class, “What did you was your best question today? What is your answer so far?"