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), evidencing the shift in Common Core Standards toward using text details to improve comprehension. We are also examining how the plot changes by looking at illustrations and wording (RL.2.7). My students are fairly comfortable with asking and answering questions at this point in the year.
I chose this book, Chester the Brave, because the text is an 2nd grade level, it has excellent illustrations and great text.The character clearly develops over the course of the story. My goal is to really focus on writing 'what' and 'where' questions to show how the character changes. This is deeper level questioning that the Common Core Standards are focusing on. Students are typically adept at the literal 'what color...' and 'what is the name...' questions. Our focus is to use questioning to improve reading comprehension, which means that students must ask deeper level questions that lead to understanding.
* When I taught this lesson a second time, I used the 'version 2' of the worksheet. My students struggled with writing so much last time I taught this, so I felt the version with less writing involved would be better.
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)
Gain student interest and introduce the topic
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, So What Do You Think, Using Evaluative Questions with Literature, Evaluative Questions-Pick Your Side and Argue, Questions Help Us See How Characters Develop, That Striking Language and Ask Questions About Those Illustrations.
Introduce strategy - teacher models
As we work through the book, students are learning how to describe the overall structure of the story by examining events and asking questions about the beginning, middle and end of the story. (RL.2.5) Analyzing the structure of texts and how the parts relate to the whole story helps the students gain familiarity with text structures and elements. As I point out how the story is organized (beginning-middle-end), I am creating carefully structured situations that allow students to ask and answer questions more independently, a shift in the Common Core State Standards.
Practice strategy - guided practice
Formative Assessment as students work
The kids were very comfortable writing these 'who' and 'what' questions, but I did continue to reinforce that they needed to help us see how the character developed. By choosing questions that helped us describe how the characters in the story responded to major events and challenges, they are analyzing how and why the characters, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of the text. (RL.2.3)
I also reminded the students that we were not predicting ('what will happen?') or asking about the setting or problem ('what did he eat?'). This experience was very typical of many 2nd graders, I think. They can ask questions, but they are not necessarily focused on the task at hand (character development). They also needed to ask questions that could be answered by text evidence or inference. This is a critical component of the Common Core State Standards. Students need to be able to support their ideas and answers with evidence.
Explain the project
Class reflection with teacher prompts
Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.
Students with academic challenges typically have difficult writing questions based on what they've heard. They should work with the teacher to formulate questions as a group or the teacher can write prompts on their whiteboards.
Students with higher abilities should be challenged to use some of the more difficult vocabulary of the book, such as 'whimper', 'twitter', and 'bothered'. As you read the text, highlight these words and then write a few on the board to prompt them to use them in the questions or answers.