Asking the Right Questions to Help Our Peers In Writing

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SWBAT pose questions that elicit elaboration of ideas in order to help peers revise their writing.

Big Idea

The Big Idea- “He explained to me with great insistence that every question possessed a power that did not lie in the answer.” ― Elie Wiesel, Night

Lesson Opener

5 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: “In this classroom we work a lot with partners in order to give each other feedback on our writing. Today we are going to practice raising our level of questioning in order to get our writing partners to do their best thinking about their writing with the first drafts of our essays."

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 your partners writing.

The process we will use is as follows;

1) Read my partners’ writing

2) Ask myself: What questions do I have about how they composed their essay?

3) Jot down my best questions on post-it notes under the sentence where I thought it. 

I had the idea for this lesson from reading this: Check it out!


Independent Practice

15 minutes

Independent Practice: Students will read two drafts of writing individually while writing down their best questions. I will direct them to write down at least two questions they have per draft. I want to see what questions they organically devise, therefore no prompts or modeling will take place. 

Group Work

20 minutes

Group Work:

1) I will then put them in groups of 3-4.  I will have them each write the down the questions or the group will appoint a scribe. I will give them or project the following rules:

  • Do not stop to discuss, judge or answer the questions.
  • Write down every question exactly as it was stated.
  • Change any statements into questions.
  • Add any questions that you did not write down. 

2) I will then direct the group to label their questions with

  • C-Close ended questions-(can be answered with a yes, no or one word)
  • O-Open ended questions-(require an explanation)


Independent Practice: I will then have each students write down what they think is the “best” question.

I will then give them the Depths of Knowledge chart and question_stems and have them determine if the question is a level 1, 2, 3, or 4.

I will then direct them to put it on a chart.

I will ask the students what they notice (they will invariably notice that many of their questions are level 1).

I will then have them edit and revise their question to raise the level, then place them back on the chart. 


5 minutes

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 learn about asking questions today? Why is it important to ask good questions as a writing partner?”