Ask Some Questions & Use Those Helpful Text Features!

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SWBAT ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of key details by using text features to find information.

Big Idea

Ask some great questions and find the answers with informational text features!



  • 'Rookie Biography' texts* or 2nd grade informational texts about Native Americans (you could choose another topic)– one per student 
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: questioning, informational text, biography, text features, (names of the text features you will need from your books)
  • Target vocabulary from text and write on the board (identify those from your unit or books)
  • 'Ask Questions and Use Text Features' worksheet 
  • Put worksheet format on the whiteboard


*I chose this series because it has great pictures and a variety of text features. The text level is mid-second grade and it had information that we were currently studying in Social Studies.

Reading texts in social studies and science helps the students build a foundation of knowledge in these areas to make them better readers in other content areas. The cross disciplinary focus with the Standards encourages teachers to use texts from other subjects in reading lessons, which ultimately benefits the students as they are exposed to vocabulary and concepts and generalize them throughout the day.

Get Excited!

10 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Bring students to a common learning point

  • "Today we'll watch a movie and read about some famous Native Americans. They all have a story to tell about how their lives changed. So much happened in our American history at this time and it will help us to understand our country better if we learn about our history."
  • Show the video of Native Americans (or choose a video of your topic).
  • Review some key ideas
    • Native Americans lived in different parts of the US
    • Their lives changed when the French, Spanish and English came
    • They were moved to reservations
    • Native Americans have a proud culture shown through dance, language, artwork, and stories
  • Review some target vocabulary (my class used 'tepee' 'buffalo' 'migrate' 'culture').

Teachers' Turn

20 minutes

Provide background to the topic

  • "Today we'll ask do some questioning about this topic and use the text features to find answers in our informational text."
  • "Here are some Informational Text Features that we have reviewed before." I put a list of words up as the kids named the features.
  • "First let's review some vocabulary on the whiteboard that we can use in our questions." (My goal is that they have the opportunity to use this new vocabulary in the discussions we’ll have about the book to help them generalize the meanings).
  • "Now I'll read one a biography to the class - point out text features and how they help you as you read-add text feature sentence strips to the board as you identify them in the book.  


I also use these 'Informational Text Feature' picture prompts for the text features since there are so many different features (caption, quote, graph, chart......) My goal is to eventually take away the pictures once my 2nd graders remember what each feature is without the picture prompt. As students have the opportunity to learn and use various text features and locate key facts or information in a text efficiently (RI.2.5), I am creating carefully structured situations that allow them to solve problems and answer questions independently, which is one strategy I use to teach to the Common Core State Standards.


Model the skill

  • "Let's ask some ‘wh’ questions and use our text of find the answers. Write these on the chart on the whiteboard.
    • "Who was Sitting Bull? This photo say he was a famous Native American."
    • "Where did the Native Americans live? Here's a words and pictures say that they lived in teepees."
    • "When did the US make a promise to these people? The words say they made an agreement in 1868, but then the US lied and broke the promise."


It’s important to model this questioning strategy for students to ensure they are asking and answering a variety of questions-not just ‘who’ and ‘what’. The questions need to have a purpose – to find information in the text and the answers should lead to questions that can be answers by the words or illustrations. Asking and answering these questions encourages students to read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and cite specific evidence to support conclusions. (RI.2.1) This allows the teacher to facilitate that learning process instead of just disseminate information and encourages students to draw on their own abilities to discover answers instead of relying on adults to supply the facts. The first of these is a key shift in the Common Core Standards, and the second is how I feel I can make my students become the most independent and successful with this level of rigor. My students have needed considerable practice to really be able to become skilled questioners, but I feel this practice will pay off once they are able to use questioning as a helpful reading strategy.


Guided Practice

  • "Now it's your turn. Help me ask and answer some questions."
  • "Let's ask a 'what' question." One student volunteered and I wrote 'What did the Indians make clothes from?" We deduced that the words said they made clothing from the buffalo." 
  • "Final one about a 'how' question."  Another student volunteered, "How many Native Americans were on the reservation?"  We found that the caption said '100-1000'. 
  • Here's a video of how I prompted the students.
  • Here's the completed whiteboard when we were done.


The focus on questioning with the support of text evidence (RI.2.1) represents a shift in the ELA Common Core toward 'close reading'. Students are expected to pull information from the text and illustrations to not only answer questions, but provide evidence that their answers are correct. Teachers should model how to use text features to garner information that supports or add to the text. (RI.2.5) There are a variety of text features in informational text and students and citing evidence to ask and answer text-dependent questions represents a shift in the Common Core Standards.

Students Take A Turn

20 minutes

Students read their text

  • Students read their text.  For students with reading challenges, I pair them up with a higher 'reading buddy'.
  • Pass out the worksheets.
  • I always wait to pass out worksheets until they are done reading.  The ultimate goal of my lessons is reading, so I want the students to know they should take the time to do ‘close reading’ of the text to gain information.


Students write the questions

  • "Now it's your turn to write ‘wh’ questions."
  • "Pick questions that can be answered with text/text features and identify the text feature on your worksheet. Try to use 1-2 of the target vocabulary from the whiteboard.
  •  Here's an example of how I prompted a student to use text features.
  • Take a look at one of my student's student's worksheets.

The ability to write questions can still be challenging for some students. Working with a buddy or using a slate at their desk to provide models will make this easier for students who are struggling. 

Apply What You've Learned!

15 minutes

Students share

  • Students share their book and ideas with the class and you prompt with questions…
    • “Which feature helps you most?”
    • “How did you answer that question?”
    • “Did that (text feature) give you information?”
    • “How does that question help you understand what you read?”
    • "What was the most interesting thing you learned about this person?"
  • To see what this looks like, here's a video of a student explaining her answers.


It's important to gauge student ability by asking them questions that show how they ‘know what they know’. Instead of just asking for answers, ask them how they chose their answers or how the questions helped them comprehend better. The goal is for the readers to become introspective – understanding how to get information and how the information helps them so they generalize the reading strategies to other texts.


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

Students with reading or language challenges will need to work with the teacher or a partner to read. They will need lots of support to ask and answer questions because questioning is typically very difficult for these students.

Students with more ability should be able to ask deeper questions about the topic. Encourage them to write questions that ask the reader to analyze a text feature or look deeper into the text. Although they may need prompting and an example, it’s worth challenging them to use higher language and sharpen their questioning skills.