Evaluative Questions - Pick Your Side and Argue About Informational Text

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SWBAT use evaluative questions, figurative language, and illustrations to get information from informational text.

Big Idea

Ask a question - get an opinion!


  • The First Independence Day Celebration by Kathy Allen
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: questioning, inferring, literal, evaluative, informational text, opinion, illustrations, words
  • whiteboard set up
  • 2 pieces of butcher block paper with 'America' and 'England' on top-my kids added a quick flag & bell
  • 'Evaluative Questions' chart
  • index cards - for students to write questions


This lesson, focusing on asking and answering evaluative questions is in the middle of a unit about questioning. My students are able to ask and answer literal and inferential questions, but need more practice with evaluative questions.

Using questioning to improve comprehension is not a reading strategy that they often employ. In this lesson, the students ask and answer to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text (RL.2.1), which supports the shift in Common Core Standards toward using text evidence to improve comprehension.  I also encourage them to share their opinions with text evidence (SL.2.3) to improve their speaking and listening skills.  As students take turns sharing their thoughts and evidence, the expectation is that they will speak clearly, using complete sentences and thoughts supported with text, illustrations or background knowledge. (SL.2.6)

I chose this text, The First Independence Day Celebration, because it is at their lexile level and the illustrations are clear. My class has been studying American history and this is the final review before our test. The students are learning vocabulary in concepts in Social Studies class, but it is SO helpful to read informational text about this topic to follow up on what they know and build content knowledge. 

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 Text, and So What Do You Think, Using Evaluative Questions with Literature.

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

  • "We have talked a lot about the colonists that came to America. Here's a Schoolhouse Rock video about their journey and how they set up the 13 colonies."


Common starting point 

  • "We have talked about questioning when you read.  When do you ask questions - before, during, after or all three?"
  • "What kinds of questions can we ask and where do we find the answers?"  refer to the words on the board - literal questions with answers in the text, inference questions with answers that we have to use our background knowledge to share, evaluative questions that ask us to give an opinion based on text evidence."

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "We learned how to ask literal and inferential and evaluative questions about text."
  • "I brought a book about the American independence. Today we will use some evaluative questions that will help us understand the text better."
  • "Since the topic is about 2 groups - the English and the Americans - we'll divide the class into 2 groups to ask questions and share our opinions."


Introduce strategy - modeling

  • "Evaluative questions...
    • require an opinion, a judgement or decision.
    • have more than one answer.
    • need proof from the text or from your background knowledge - a reason!!
    • help you learn as you listen to others' questions."
  • "We have made a great chart with some words that help us start an evaluative question."  Refer to 'evaluative questions'  chart.
  • Here's how I explained the task to the group. Read the pages 3-5.
  • This is a video of the teacher modeling evaluative questions. Then I moved to the England side and ring the bell and give an opinion!
  • Move to the American side and ring the bell and give an opinion with a reason. 


Review strategy - guided practice

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Assign Task

  • "We'll go through the next pages and 1 person from each group can ask an evaluative question."
  • "The questions need to start with the words from the 'Evaluative Questions' chart."
  • "Each group can ring the bell to share their opinion for the question. Remember to explain why you have that opinion." 
  • Review the rules for group work.  Here's a poster for group rules that my students created.


Read pages as a group

  • Student read the pages together on the Elmo.
  • One student from each group comes up and uses the book to write a question to ask the groups.
  • Students take turns so they can hear other students model.
  • Write the questions out as you finish.
  • This is a video of how this activity looked - students answering questions
  • Take a look at a sample of the question cards.

Reflect On What You Learned

10 minutes

Share what you know

  • "Did you enjoy today's activity?  Why?"  Hopefully they liked it because it was fun and interactive.
  • "What did we learn today?"
  • "Do you think you learned more from reading or reading and using questions?  Why?"
  • "We used lots of evaluative questions today?  There were multiple answers and no one was 'right' or 'wrong'.  Do you like these kinds of questions?  Why?"


The ability of students to write their own questions and use ideas from the text to answer them (RI.2.1) allows them to 'lead' their own learning experience.  My role as teacher is to model how to ask and answer evaluative questions, but I want to guide and facilitate their learning. This is a new approach as I try to meet the level of rigor that is demanded by the Common Core standards.  I want to move away from the "teacher as sole information source" and toward the "student as an active learner" model because, even though it's hard to relinquish that control, I think it leads to better mastery of the material.  When students use what they have learned from the text to verbalize answers to questions, they have the opportunity to explain their ideas (SL.2.3) and further facilitate the learning process. Explaining what they know and how they know it is an example of metacognitive learning.


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

Students with limited language and vocabulary can work in a group and participate without having to write. They will still have good ideas and contribute well.

Students with more ability should be encouraged to be the writer or monitor the formation of the questions.