What Am I Being Asked to Do: Detail or Whole Picture Questions

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SWBAT identify assessment questions that ask for specific information and questions that ask for the theme or big idea.

Big Idea

Students who can determine what sort of question they are being asked are better able to find the correct information in the text.


5 minutes

There are basically three types of questions that students will have to answer on a typical reading assessment. This lesson will focus on two of the three.

When students can determine what which type of question is being asked, they can use the correct skills to access the text and respond accurately. 

I use examples of questions with the text and even answer choices removed or covered up. It important to just focus on the questions rather than be distracted by trying to answer the questions without practicing the skill being taught in this lesson.

Main Activity

20 minutes

After explaining that there are different types of questions, I display a few of the questions they might encounter. One type asks students to go to a specific paragraph or sentence and use that information to answer the question. The other type are questions that focus on the theme, message or big idea and require students to read the entire text and possibly infer the purpose of the text or what the theme is.

The type of questions that are specific are ones that students can verify the answer by going to one spot in text. They are also questions that are typically quotes from the text or a specific details about the setting or character. 

Main idea or theme questions are questions that have the words "main idea", "theme", or "message". These are also questions that refer to the entire text and require students to think about many details, not just a specific section.

After explaining, students get a chance to look at a few questions and determine which type of questions they are by marking "b" for big idea and "s" for specific.


5 minutes

To close the lesson, I review the questions that students worked on. I called on students to put a thumbs up if they thought a question was a main idea or specific type of question. Then we looked at each question and discussed how they decided what type of question is was. 

I encouraged students to always be aware of what sort of question they are being asked so they can make good choices about how to answer the question and what strategies to use.