In the previous lesson, students used context clues to find the meanings of unfamiliar words. Today, we’ll move on to the Question-Answer Relationship (QAR) comprehension strategy for questioning a text. I like this approach because it teaches students not only where to look for answers to text questions, but also to think like a "test maker" when responding. If you are not familiar with QAR or if you are looking for creative ways to use it in all subject areas, the Reading Rockets website has good information and links.
I open the lesson by writing Q A R in big letters on the board and asking students to guess what the letters stand for. I take some responses and then explain: “There is a relationship between every question and its answer. The answers to some questions are right in front of us. For example, if I ask, ‘What is our class focus this week?’ the answer to the question is posted right here on the board. To find the answers to other types of questions, we might need to gather information from some source or use our schema and make inferences. For example, if I ask, ‘What is the most popular ice cream flavor of students in this class?” we would need to take a survey to find the answer.’ Then, under Q A R, I write Question-Answer Relationship.
I explain that there are four different types of questions. I draw a two-column chart on the board, and as I introduce each question type I write its name in the left hand column and ask students how they think they would find an answer to this type of question. I ask questions and give examples to lead students toward a description, which I write beside the name in the right hand column. The question types are:
I explain that every question falls into one of these four categories and tell students that now they will get a chance to practice searching for answers to each type of question. I project the poem “Crumbs in My Bed” on the board.
I read the poem aloud and ask the first question: “According to the speaker in the poem, what does Dad take him when he is sick?" I take responses and ask, “Where did you find your answer? (right in the text, in the second line of the second stanza) I ask a volunteer to reference the Q A R chart on the board and identify the question type, and I involve others by having them sign agreement or disagreement.
I check for understanding by asking, "What are some other “Right There” questions we could ask about this text?" I have students write questions on their individual whiteboards and then ask volunteers to share.
I repeat the procedure with the other three question types and have students write responses to each one and identify the question types on their white boards.
I divide the class into small groups to read and answer questions about the poem "Thank-you Sincerely." I challenge groups to work together to answer the questions and to come up with new questions of each question type, reminding them to refer back to the Q A R chart on the board. To motivate students and encourage participation, I tell students that I’ll award points to the group who finishes first, the group who comes up with the best new questions, the group who does the best job of presenting their responses, and the group with the most creative response.
I circulate and listen in on group discussions and assist where needed. I may need to work closely with a small group of struggling learners.
I gather students together, restate the lesson objective, and have groups share responses to the “Thank You Sincerely” questions and the new questions they came up with. Then I ask, "Why do we ask questions that do not have answers that are easily found in a text?" I lead students to the understanding that looking for answers helps readers think and question what they are reading. Here are some students sharing their learning:
I close by asking, "Why is it important to be able to ask different types of questions about a text?" Students should understand that if you can formulate questions like a "test maker,"—that is, if you know what type of question you’re asking— then you understand where to look for the answers and will be a better "test taker." Although I don't like teaching to the test, this is a useful realization.