Students in third grade have been learning how to read since Kindergarten. They are now expected to read in order to learn. This lesson teaches them how to read and learn from informational text.
I reminded students that we have been using the questioning strategy with narratives we have been reading. Now I was going to teach them how to use the strategy with informational text. I told them we read informational text to learn information about a topic. Our science book is informational text and we were going to use it to learn about plants. (I used the district adopted science text for this lesson because it is the only informational text we have access to at this time.)
I created a reading guide to guide students through the text as they read and applied the strategy. This ensured students were stopping and engaging with the text. It also provided a means for me to assess students’ application of the strategy. I displayed the reading guide on the document camera. I pointed to the question that directed students to read the heading on page A8. (They should have learned the meaning of ‘heading’ in second grade. Do a mini-lesson if they did not.) I modeled writing it on the line. Having students write the heading ensures they are reading it because they often skip it and just begin reading the passage. Reading the heading gives the reader a ‘heads up’ on what the passage is going to be about. Next, I modeled writing the heading as question. I told them good readers turn headings into questions, then they read to see if they can answer the question. The question I wrote is, “What do plants need?” I said, “Now I’ll read on to see what plants need.”
I placed a transparency over the textbook page. I read the passage aloud, stopping to underline what the text said plants needed with a dry erase marker. When I was done, I had underlined water, light, soil, and air. I pointed out I had underlined the answers to my question, “What do plants need?” I placed the reading guide back under the document camera and wrote the four things plants need on the graphic organizer. I reiterated that turning the heading into a question helped me learn what plants need.
I modeled a few more examples for students. They helped me create questions from the headings. I wrote them on the reading guide displayed on the document camera and they wrote them in their own reading guide. I told students they would work in partners to continue reading the chapter and completing their reading guides.
Note: There are other strategies used in the reading guide, but this lesson focuses on the questioning strategy.
Students worked in groups of two or three. I grouped students with similar reading abilities. Grouping high and low readers can be frustrating to the high reader who often has to wait a long amount of time for the low reader read the text. Students with similar reading abilities are more patient and willing to help each other. If I have non-readers, they are grouped with a middle level pair, who will read aloud to them so that they can get the same information. I occasionally pulled these students into a small group to read aloud with me and complete the reading guide. With both strategies, low and non-readers are hearing the information read and learning from the text.
I assess students using a checklist. I check (1) whether or not they are turning the heading into a question and finding the answers in the text, (2) turning the heading into a question, but not finding answers in the text, or (3) not turning the heading into a question.
I wanted students to be cognizant of how asking and answering questions helped them comprehend informational text. They are more likely to remember to use the strategy if they recognize how it improves their comprehension. So, I gave them a Ticket Out the Door with the following question: How does asking questions help you understand the text?