Ask Questions About Those Illustrations

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SWBAT describe how the author uses illustrations to add meaning to that text.

Big Idea

The pictures help us answer questions!



This is a lesson in the middle of a unit about questioning. In this lesson, the students ask and answer questions 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.  The students are also looking at how illustrations and words enhance our understanding of the characters and plot. (RL.2.7) In this story, the pictures and understanding of this silly character bring so much meaning!  We are using literature to ask and answer the two kinds of questions about the text and character - literal and inferential. My students are fairly comfortable with these types of questions and understand how to find the answers to each type. We have created charts to help with starting the questions (see above list).  This book is also full of multiple meaning words and figurative language. It's a great opportunity for students to see the nuances in word meanings. (L.2.5)

I chose this book, Amelia Bedelia, because the text is an 2nd grade level, the characters clearly change, and the illustrations are wonderful. My goal is to really focus on how questions help the reader determine what motivates the character and how the character changes.

If you have not taught lessons about questioning text, 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 LiteratureEvaluative Questions-Pick Your Side and ArgueWhat Are You Asking About Informational Text?, and Questions Help Us See How Characters Develop.

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 book - talk about Amelia Bedelia  - "She's a maid - what does a maid do?"
  • "Her family gives her a list of things to do.  Do you ever have a list of things to do?" Here is a my students' list.

Common starting point (see focus/background of the lesson)

  • "Let's review the 3 kinds of questioning." (literal, inferential, evaluative)  We discussed the kinds of questions, how they are worded, and what information they are asking the students for.
  • "How do questions help us?"  understand ideas, answer questions, learn new words
  • "We use illustrations and words to help us answer questions. They are the evidence that we need to answer the questions correctly."

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "The book that I brought is a 'classic' piece of literature. This character does silly things while she's trying to understand what people ask of her. The plot is a good one!"
  • "Today we are going to focus on inferential questions. They have answers that we have to infer - the author does not directly tell us. We can contrast these with literal questions."
  • "We'll look at what the inferences that the questions ask for and then how Amelia literally questions what to do."
  • "I'll be writing the questions on the board to figure out a literal and inferential answer."
  • "Illustrations and words carry a lot of meaning in a story. They can help us understand the characters and plot."


Model the strategy 

  • "This character is silly. People ask her to infer and she can only do what they ask literally." Read pp 1-16 - show the pictures - make comments about the illustrations and plot
  • "Let's look at an example from this book - (pg. 16) 'change the towels in the bathroom'  - write that on the board.
  • Use a question word chart to ask a literal question. "What does the picture show? What does the text say?"
  • Answer the question with the illustration and words  - this is our discussion about Amelia 'changing the towels'.


Practice strategy - guided practice

  • Read to pg 21.  Introduce the inference to "dust the furniture' - add it to the chart.
  • Use the question word chart to ask question for Amelia  Here's our whiteboard partially completed.  
  • Answer the question, focusing again on illustrations and words that bring meaning to the plot and characters.


As students examine character development, they are describing how the characters respond to major events and challenges. (RL.2.3) The are analyzing how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. The Common Core State Standards emphasized using evidence from the text to present this careful analyses, reading the text with care to find evidence of how the characters changed.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Assign Task


Students answer the questions

  • Pass out the worksheets.
  • Read the story and stop at the pages listed below. Kids write a literal question with prompting and answer the questions.  Remind the to use illustrations and think about the plot.
    • "Draw the drapes p. 25"
    • "Put out the lights  pp. 28-30"  Here's our discussion about putting out the lights.
    • "Measure 2 cups of rice p. 34" 
  • Here are 2 examples of completed work - student worksheet and student worksheet 1.

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Explain the project:

  • "There are a few more inferences on the list."
  • Here's an example of how I would ask a question and draw a picture about this inference.
  • "Now you can choose from the extra phrases to draw what Amelia was thinking and ask a literal question."
  • "Flip over your paper and write a question that Amelia could ask and how she would finish the job on the list."  This is how I explained the project.
  • Give kids time to draw and write a question.  Here's one of my student projects.

Formative Assessment

  • Walk around and encourage the kids to reflect about their project.  This is a great kind of formative assessment.
  • Encourage them to reread and use good grammar.


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

Students with academic challenges should work in a group with the teacher to write questions and answer the questions. Writing and answering questions tends to be a more difficult skills, so  prompts for challenged students can also be done with the whiteboard. Here's some prompting for students to write a question that my students needed.

Students with more ability will should be able to write more evaluative questions or use higher level vocabulary. Explaining your expectations to them, such as vocabulary use or question word choice, will help them meet a higher level of ability.