Types of Questions

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SWBAT identify and categorize questions as factual, interpretive, or evaluative.

Big Idea

In order to participate in shared inquiry, students must understand and apply effective interpretive questions for discussion.

Factual Questions

20 minutes

     I begin my introduction to shared inquiry by discussing three types of questions that help to comprehend a story:

  1. Factual
  2. Interpretive
  3. Evaluative

     First we discuss a factual question by exploring its definition.  A factual question has only one correct answer that  can be suppored with evidence from the text.  A factual question asks you to recall something  by pointing to one passage in the selection. It is directly stated in text and based solely on recall of information.  Then, we discuss an example:

Q: Where did the fisherman and his wife live in the beginning of the story ?  A:  They live in a hut.

   We discuss that there is only one valid answer.  It is stated directly in text.  Then, I ask students to give their own examples as we analyze their questions.



Interpretive Questions

20 minutes


    Once, students have an understanding of factual questions, we discuss interpretive questions.  The answers to interpretive questions are implied  in the text, not directly stated. Students will have to read between the lines.  Interpretive questions do not have just one valid answer. Answers are valid if students can support evidence from the text. Common Core encourages students to cite evidence from text, even if inferences are made from different locations in text.  Just because there could be more than one correct answer and there is room for interpretation to answer questions does not mean students can put away the text.  Supports from the text are still essential for interpretive questions, which is the basis of Shared Inquiry Discussions. The more engaging discussions are derived from questions with various correct answers as interpreted from text evidence.  

    This is a more difficult explanation, so it requires many examples.  I do not want to give examples from the Fisherman and His Wife because that will be their assignment in the following lessons.  So, I select examples from other stories we have read together as a class.  For example:

Q:  Why do you think Fern has the ability to understand the animals?

Q:   When all the animals were suggesting different actions, whyt didn't Wilbur  listen to them?

Q:  Why is Wilbur unhappy when he first lived in Mr. Zuckerman's farm ?


   I ask students to write their answers to these questions in their Reading Journal.  Furthermore, I ask students to write the page number of the text that supports their answers from the book: Charlotte's Web.  As we explored answers to these questions, students discuss multiple answers.  Each can be supported by evidence in text.  ask students to cite the evidence from the page numbers they had written in their journals. This activity not only explains to students what constitutes interpretive questions, but also demonstrates by examples. 


Evaluative Questions

20 minutes

    The third type of question introduced during this lesson is evaluative question.  Evaluative question is a question is answered based on one's values and beliefs. It requires information and sources outside of the text.  It seeks to identify your perspective or point of view.  However, evaluative questions still need support from text. Text-based evidence strengthens students' abilities to comprehend text and deepens comprehension. Common Core explicitly creates avenues for students to connect deeply with texts, even as they bring in outside information.

We explore the following examples:

Q:  How are you similar to the main character?

Q:  Why did the author write this book? 

     Again, I ask students to write answers to these questions in their Reading Journal.  Then, we share our answers and the ways we defend our answers.  We discuss life experiences that develop our attitude and perspective towards certain topics.  

QA Flip Book:

      Since students have reviewed all three types of questions, I ask them to create a Question/ Answer Flip book providing examples of each type of question.  They may use the questions from previous lessons that they wrote in their Reading Journal.  Through this activity, students see the different characteristics of each type of questions.  Prior to creating their flip book independently, students played a sorting game with some sample questions.  This is a formative assessment to gauge student understanding of differences in types of questions. I address any questions or misconceptions that students may have and gradually release ownership to them.