Before students can participate in shared inquiry, they must learn how to identify and ask interpretive questions vs. factual questons. Interpretive questions require a lot of thought and analysis of text to answer because it may have more than one answer. The possible answers can be supported with evidence from text. However, students must also read between the lines to answer these questions because unlike a factual question, the author does not directly answer the question, but gives hints and clues within the text. Interpretive questions are essential for Shared Inquiry discussions. Common Core urges readers to delve deeper into the text by asking more thought provoking complex questions that require higher order thinking processes to answer.
Students had completed the second reading of The Fisherman and His Wife and followed the guidelines for note taking (see source) that was introduced at a prior lesson: http://www.cc.betterlesson.com/lesson/505354/note-taking?from=owner_view. Certain types of students' notes can be converted into interpretive questions. Now, students can begin to generate interpretive questions from their notes.
I like to begin this lesson by using something that is familiar to my students. Since previous lessons explored character conflicts, students in my class build on that prior knowledge and base their questions off what they already know of character conflicts. My students are always wondering why the characters react the way they do. So, notes that question a character's motives can lead to complex questions.
My students are also familiar with author's purpose. The unique ways an author uses language often stand out enough for students to jot notes on their post its. They want to understand why the author uses these literary devices. Understanding the intended purpose of language is crucial to gaining insight of the central message. I encourage students to generate questions about the author's intentions.
At this point, I introduce a third type of question: Evaluative Question. It is similar to interpretive questions because both types may have more than one answer. However, supports for answers to Evaluative Questions come from both text and the reader's opinions and experiences.
Prior to analyzing student notes, we discuss the three types of questions we learned thus far:
So that we are all on the same page, I give students a formative assessment.by asking them to complete a "Question Type Checklist" (see source). Students are to categorize questions into one of the three types listed above. Afterwards, we discuss their answers. Interestingly, formative assessment indicate students were confused about the differences between interpretive and evaluative questions. Therefore, we decide to focus only on Interpretive Questions at this time.
I model creating interpretive questions from student notes by using a "Question Generator" aka shoe box. The "Question Generator" will turn notes into interpretive questions. I use a shoe box and insert their sticky notes inside the shoe box to represent the Question Generator. Then, I pass the shoe box around the class so that different students can revise a sticky note into an interpretive question. It is a collaborative method that requires brainstorming among students. This process takes much practice and will require a lot of teacher guidance at first. Using the shoe box as a game activity makes practicing less laborious and more exciting. A gradual release of this process help foster independence. A sample question that was generated from our discussion:
Note: The sea changed to green.
Interpretive Question: Why did the sea change colors every time the fisherman returned to ask the fish for favors?
After converting your notes into questions, revisions will be necessary to make these questions more intriguing during shared inquiry discussions. There are five characteristics that make interpretive questions more engaging.
- Open-Ended: A question that creates doubt because there are more than one possible answer will capture students' curiosity. Furthermore, these multiple answers can all be supported by evidence from text. I tell students that if a question has at least two answers that can be supported by text evidence, it passes the test for good interpretive questions.
- Personally Interesting: I urge students to ask questions that interest them. Chances are, these questions will also interest the group and a lively discussion will take place. Interest is motivating.
- Evidence-Based: The question must lead back to evidence from text. Opinions during discussions must be supported by text. Not only does it promote critical thinking, but also deepen understanding.
- Clear and Focused: Clear and focused questions immediately identify the problem. This keeps the group focused and on topic.
- Specific: Specificity is more effective than vague questions. If this question is generated in your notes at different places in the story, The more specific the question, the more detailed the answers.
Following these guidelines, students review and tweak the questions that were created from the "Question Generator" earlier. At the end of this activity, we write student revised questions on sentence strips and display them on our Shared Inquiry pocket chart. We review and rate selected questions, using the guidelines of the five characteristics above. This gives immediate feedback and serves as my formative assessments of where student understanding lies at this point.