Ask and Answer Questions

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SWBAT ask and answer questions about key information from a literary text.

Big Idea

What questions would you ask this rabbit and why would you ask them? In this lesson, students learn more about questioning text.


It seems in today’s world people are so attuned to ‘multi-tasking’ and communicating through social media, they are forgetting how to communicate face to face.  I admit I prefer old school face to face conversation.  As a First grade teacher I realize that talking and sharing is the most common way First graders communicate, therefore I know it is important to teach good listening and speaking skills early in the school year.  Doing so helps students stay focused and actively engaged in conversations as well as lessons.  Common core takes listening and speaking to a higher level by requiring students to ask or respond to questions that are text related rather than superficial. 

Common Core Connection:

The purpose of text-specific questions is to ensure careful comprehension of the text.  My goal in today’s lesson is for my students to gain practice integrating and evaluating information presented in the literary selection, through SL.1.2: Asking and answering questions about key details in a text read aloud, and RL.1.1: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text. I will do this through explaining the difference between an irrelevant question and a text-dependent question, and modeling how to ask questions that will lead to more meaningful comprehension of the text.  

Lesson Overview:

In today’s lesson students will read from our anthology, The Kite, by Alma Flor Ada.  During the lesson I will model questions I have about the events in the story and give my students several opportunities to practice thinking of and asking questions. 


Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme 5: Let’s Look Around, The Kite by Alma Flor Ada


5 minutes

To begin today’s lesson I reminded my little ones that this week we are practicing our listening and speaking skills.  Before continuing I had my students play a short round of “Do what I do”, (Demonstration Video: Do As I Do) where I clapped a pattern of clapping my knees two times, then my hands two times, repeating the pattern until all my students were clapping the pattern with me.  Once they were all engaged I stopped and held up both hands and silently counted down from ten, showing my students by dropping one finger per number.  Then I folded my hands in my lap.  My students followed my motions.  I then said, “Now that you are all showing me what good listeners look like, show me what it looks like when you agree, disagree, or were going to say the same thing as your classmate”.  My students showed me a thumb up to agree, a thumb down to disagree, and a hang ten sign to show they were going to say the same thing.  I use these hand gestures to encourage student engagement and participation. (See demonstration video The Thumbs Have It)  

When my students were finished showing me the hand gestures I directed them to think about what skill they practiced yesterday.  As hands went up I reminded my students to listen to their classmate and show me if they agreed or not.  I then called a student to share with the class.  The answer I was looking for, and got, was: asking the author questions.

From there I introduced The Kite, by Alma Flor Ada, telling my students that as they read they were to think of a question they would ask Alma Flor Ada or a general question about the story.  (SL.1.2: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media)

Guided Practice

15 minutes

At that point I had my students stand up and spread their arms out straight and ‘float’ to their chairs like kites.  I usually have a motion or enactment for my students to follow as they move from rug to chair, or chair to rug.  It adds a little fun to the day and gives my students an opportunity to be creative.

Once settled at their desks I had them take out their anthologies and open to The Kite, by Alma Flor Ada.  Before reading I gave them a moment to look at the title page and pictures in the story.  When they finished looking at the pictures I gave them a moment to share with their table partner what the story will be about.  (Both of these activities help familiarize students to the story)  Once they finished sharing with their table partners we began reading.  Because this was the first whole group reading of this text, I wanted to have as many students read so I could hear words my little ones may need more practice with.  To do this I pull students names from the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) and have them read one or two pages. 

As my students read I stopped them on page 95 and modeled: “A question I have is, how does the good news make the characters feel”?  I gave my students a moment to think about this question.  Before calling on a student to answer I reminded my students to show me if they agreed or disagreed with the answer.  After calling on two or three students and hearing their answers, I explained it was now their turn to think of a question about the story.  I further explained the question could be directed to the author, about one of the characters, or about an event in the story.  To further help my students I modeled: If I met the author I would ask ___?  As my students shared their questions (Student Questions), I wrote them on the Promethean board.

When my little ones finished asking their questions, I had them continue reading, stopping on page 101, and modeling, “A question I have is why did the mom say the children could look for the kite”?  This time after I asked the question I explained to my students that the answer to this question was not answered directly in the text of the story.  To answer it they would have to think about what they know about the mom in the story and the lost kite, look at the pictures in the story, and think about the events in the story.  I then gave them a moment to think about the question.  Again before calling on a student or two to answer the question I reminded my students to show me with their thumbs if they agreed or disagreed with the answers.   After hearing their answers I gave my students a moment to think about questions they would ask the author about what they had just read.  I again wrote their questions on the Promethean board.

When we finished the reading I directed my students’ attention to their questions on the Promethean board.  After a brief discussion about the questions with obvious answers and questions that took a little bit more thinking we removed the ones with obvious answers.  I explained to my students that all questions were good; however, if they know the answer they do not need to ask it.  I further explained the questions we kept on the Promethean board were the questions that deepened our understanding of the key details in the story. These are the kinds of questions that good readers ask themselves as they read.

To check their understanding I had my student’s partner share three things they could use to help them answer questions from a story if the answer was not stated.

Collaborative Activity

15 minutes

From there I gave them the directions for their collaborative activity.  To get their full attention I repeated the clapping pattern routine we did earlier in the lesson.  Once my students were all quiet I gave the following directions:

  1. Get your pencil and stand up
  2. Look at a friend
  3. Walk to that friend
  4. You and your friend sit at the closest desk  (I gave them a moment to settle into a desk)  Before continuing I passed out one blank lined paper per student pair
  5. Write your names on the top of the paper
  6. Read the questions on the Promethean board and with your friend answer the questions
  7. Write the answers on your paper

After 15 minutes I collected all the papers and shuffled them.  I then randomly chose 4 and read them to the class.  As I read the answers my students showed me a thumb up or down if they agreed or disagreed with the answer read, or they showed me a hang ten if they wrote the same answer.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

When my students finished the collaborative activity I restated that we are practicing asking the author questions about this story.  I then directed my students to pretend they were Alma Flor Ada.  I continued by stating: "You are the author Alma Flor Ada and I have a question for you.  I then posed the question: How would the story be different had the kite not get lost?"  

I gave my students a moment to think about how Alma Flor Ada would answer the question and directed them to write their responses in their journals.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

In order to receive a sticker and go to a "free activity" they had to show me their completed journal with a short narrative of how the story would be different had the kite not gotten lost.