Learning to Ask Questions When We Read

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SWBAT ask questions about key details in a fictional text.

Big Idea

Why is it important that I learn how to ask questions about a story?

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

As I began the process of becoming familiar with the shifts in the Common Core standards, I realized that I needed to start asking students more text-dependent questions. A text dependent question is one where a student can only answer by having read the text. Here is resource for you that I found helpful: Prompts for Text Dependent Questions.  Asking such questions gets students to look for evidence and answer these text dependent questions.  Yet looking at standard RL1.1, I noticed that students also have to learn how to ask questions about the text when they read.  To help understand this important aspect of the standards, I found a really easy read about why students need to ask questions when they read check out this blog post here.

I realized that when we set the foundation and get our students to start asking questions about the text, we are getting our students to think about the text more deeply.  They can start to make predictions and inferences, and give opinions based on evidence.

This standard also lends itself to teaching good speaking and listening skills, which I focus on a lot at the beginning of the year to establish expectations that will last through out the year.

Finally, this is a great lesson for differentiation.  You will need an appropriately rich and complex read aloud story that you can ask questions about. You will also need a variety of texts from your classroom library.  I used one book for every two students.  You will also need to copy a recording sheet  Questions While Reading Template so each student can write down their questions. I have also included an anchor chart that shows words that start a question.  I made a copy of this for each of my students Words That Start a Question.  Finally, you will need to download  wither the Smartboard  Asking Questions During Reading.notebook or Activboard Asking Questions During Reading.flipchart lesson so you can model for your students.

Teacher Modeling

10 minutes

I called my class to the carpet.  I chose to read the book "The Full Belly Bowl" by Jim Aylesworth.  I chose this book because it had a great deal of complex text, and I knew the students wouldn't be familiar with the story. I know that in first grade, in order to help students access higher level texts, I can read stories to my class that are several levels above their actual reading level.  When I read stories that contain complex sentence structure and highly developed vocabulary, I am giving students the ability to work with complex text that they can't access on their own.  This is what addressing standard RL1.10 will look like in a first grade classroom. 

I pulled up my Smartboard lesson and read the first few pages in the lesson about why it was so important to ask questions as you read and examples of question starters such as "I wonder?  "How?  Why?  Did?" I said, "Now that you know why it is important to ask questions, I am going to model this process for you with this book."  I looked at the title and said, "I can start asking questions before I even start reading the book. I am going to look at the title and the front cover. I wonder what a full belly bowl is? I will write this question down. Another question is "Why is the man playing a trumpet? I am going to write this down as well.  Now as I read, I will see if the story answers these questions for me."  I started to read and I modeled recording answers on my sheet.  I logged new questions I thought of as I read. When the story answered my questions I logged that as well.  When the story was done, I thought of new questions and logged those as well. I wanted to make sure I modeled how important it was to ask questions before, during, and after reading.

Independent Practice With Partners

25 minutes

It was time for my students to read and start asking questions.  I passed out their copies of their questions sheets.  I explained that they were to ask questions about the story, before, during, and after reading. I partnered my students, gave them a book that fit their reading level, and their recording sheets.  My students got right to work and were very motivated.

I have a video Learning to Ask Questions.mp4 that shows how my students worked with their partners.


5 minutes

I gave each of my students a post it note as an exit ticket.  I told them to write on the post it why they thought it was important to ask questions about a story.  My lower readers couldn't articulate why we asked questions, but I know, like with everything else, that I need to keep exposing everyone to these important skills but I also know that I need to keep reteaching until even my strugglers can achieve these rigorous standards.

The exit ticket, even though its a quick and easy closure activity gives me good information about what my students are taking away from the lesson.  I also have a video here Student Work Analysis Asking Questions.mp4 that shows some student work analysis.