What Are You Asking About Informational Text?

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SWBAT ask and answer literal, inferential, and evaluative questions about informational text by using text features and illustrations.

Big Idea

How do you ask and answer the questions - with text, inferences or by evaluating?



I like this book because the text is within 2nd grade level and it had clear illustrations. We'll be using both the illustrations and text to find answers to the questions (RI.2.1), so it's important that both are clear. Using text features to answer questions (RI.2.5) is a big part of this lesson and it's a great review for the students to pay attention to these as they read and understand what each one brings to the meaning of the writing piece.  Finally, this lesson highlights the use of illustrations specifically and how they contribute and clarify a text. (RI.2.7)

If you have not taught lessons about question writing, I encourage you to look at some of the earlier lessons so your students get some practice with writing and answering questions. These lessons include The Whys and Whens of Questioning about Literature,  Big Questions About Informational TextSo What Do You Think, Using Evaluative Questions with Literature, and Evaluative Questions-Pick Your Side and Argue.

** When I taught this lesson the 3rd time, I was in a different Science/SS unit. I developed this "Kinds of Questions' worksheet, which is more generic and can be used with any non-fiction topic. I'll use this one from now on, because it's more applicable and requires less writing.

Let's Get Excited!

5 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.


Get students engaged

  • Show the powerpoint and talk about what you do when you get mad. My students had great ideas and comments and could really relate to this topic.   


Common starting point

  • List some topical vocabulary on the board: tea party, colonists, harbor, tax, protest, disguise.
  • "We've been talking about the colonists and how the King was unfair. He put taxes on things they used and sent soldiers. The colonists wanted to be free and stop paying taxes."
  • "I brought a book today about these ideas - we need to ask some more questions to help us understand what we are reading."
  • "Today we are going to continue our work on questioning.  We are going to talk about literal, inferential and evaluative questions today."

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

 Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "We will be asking questions to help us understand the text. Some answers are in the words and some are in the illustrations."
  • "How do questions help us when we read?  When do we ask questions?"  This is a review of the last lesson - questions help us be active readers, we ask questions before, during and after reading
    • "Literal questions have answers that are easy to find. Many times the answers are in the illustrations or text.
    • "Inferential questions have answers that are not right in the text. I have to 'figure out' the answers based on the illustration and text and what I know.
    • "Evaluative questions ask for an opinion based on the text. These are harder questions, but great for 2nd graders! Let's start a new evaluative question chart with words that start these questions. We can add some words today.

Evaluative questioning is more difficult for students, but I want them to have some practice with guidance. The Boston Tea Party is a great topic for this, and the viewpoint is clear for the students to see. My goal is to engage them and let them lead some of the questioning and opinions. Helping students to be active participants in their learning supports the level of rigor of the standards in the Common Core. Students who can ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text (RI.2.1) are facilitating their own learning.


Teacher modeling

  • "I'll read the first page of the book and we'll identify the type of questions and answer them together. We will look in the text and pictures to find the evidence for the answers."
  • Read the first page & ask the questions:
    • "What did they throw?"
    • "Are all of the people protesting?"
    • "How would you protest?"
  • Discuss how to find the answers and what kind of questions these are. This is an example of how I modeled how to identify the question type and how to answer the questions.  This is the whiteboard with modeled questions.


Guided Practice

  • "Let's try a few more questions together."
  • Read pp 4-5 and write 3 questions and do pages 6-7 and write 3 more questions. Vary the question words and include some with the answer in the illustration. Here's the whiteboard with all of our questions.
  • Answer the questions together, looking for evidence from illustrations and text.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain task

  • "Now it's your turn to answer some questions. I'm going to read and show you the pages and you will choose what kind of question it is and answer."
  • "At the end, we'll check the answer and see how good you are at answering questions!"


Assign Task

  • "You have a worksheet with 12 questions. I'll read each set of pages (left and right side). "
  • "After I read, you'll look at the question and decide if its literal, inferential, or evaluative."
  • "Put it in the right space on your worksheet and then answer the question."
  • Take a moment and let the students cut the squares on the worksheet.
  • Heres how it looked when I explained the task for the first questions.


My goal with this group activity is to encourage thinking and active learning about answering questions. I want the students to think about a question before they answer so they determine where they could find the answer. I also want them to become more introspective about answering inferential and evaluative questions and recognize them as such. When students can 'think' as they work ('the answer is not on the page but I know about this topic so I'll write what I know'), they will ultimately become stronger learners.


Students work

  • Read the pages, prompt as necessary. Encourage students think about what kind of question it is and glue the answer where it belongs.
  • As they work, walk around and let students explain their choices.
  • Help them separate out their opinions from the opinions in the book. This student needed prompting with separating out her opinion, and the discussion was a great learning opportunity.
  • Here's an example of the completed student work.

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Class discussion

  • "Let's see what answers each group had."
  • Call out each question number, ask the answer and type of question. Discuss the different ideas.
  • Focus on how the inferential and evaluative answers might have different answers. 
  • Discuss how the evaluative questions might have been harder because group members did not agree on 'right' and 'wrong'.


What did you learn

  • "What were the easiest questions to answer?  Why?"
  • "How did you answer the inferential questions?"
  • "How did you answer the evaluative questions? I saw lots of discussion with those.  Did you all agree on the answers?"
  • "What was your favorite kind of question?" 


This was my favorite part of the lesson. The kids are very honest with their answers that the literal questions were easy. Many of them liked the evaluative questions because there was a lot of discussion, although 'agreeing' on a group answer was sometimes a struggle. They really did become more introspective about questioning and we will practice the inferential and evaluative comprehension questions again.


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

Students with learning challenges should be grouped with a partner or be given prompts to choose where to put the questions. Although the discussion with  about each kind of questions might be difficult, it is still good to use the vocabulary and great to challenge the students. This is a discussion I had with one of my students with academic challenges. I did prompt him, but he had learned some great basic ideas.