Crafting "How and Why" Questions with Newsela

Students craft "how and why" questions and seek additional information to find the answers to questions not located in a text
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Crafting Questions

About This Strategy

Students will practice the art of asking questions in Newsela nonfiction texts by identifying questions that remain unanswered after they have read a text, crafting those questions, and identifying who or what might be a good source for helping answer the questions. Then students will consult additional resources in order to answer their outstanding questions.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning:

  1. Determine the Texts or Text Sets students will read based on current issues that students relate to or based on the big topics of the curriculum. Consider choosing a topic that relates to the current unit of study.

  2. Develop a graphic organizer for students to track their questions about the topic before and after reading as well as a place to take notes on the articles they read. (See the resource section for a sample graphic organizer.)

  3. Decide whether to break the class into groups (each of which will focus on a particular topic) or if students can choose their own topics to read and write about.

  4. Create and share a How and Why Questions Poster (see Resources) to spark students' thinking about the topic of their article and also to serve as an anchor chart as they read.

Student Preparation:

  1. Introduce the How and Why Questions Poster to students in a mini-lesson using the poster in the resource section below as a guide.

  2. Explain to students that they will be writing a response to a question they will craft while they are reading. Review expectations for a written response with students.

  3. Share with students the Graphic Organizer they will complete while they read the text.

  4. Encourage students to highlight important words and phrases in their Newsela article using Newsela Annotations while reading to remind students of the questions as they read.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. As students read their text or Text Set at their selected reading level, ask them to think about different How and Why questions they have about the topic and jot them down in the first column of the graphic organizer as they read.  

    • For students who struggle to identify questions they still have about a topic, give them these sentence frames to use: 

      • After reading this article, I'm still wondering about...

      • One thing that I didn't understand about this article was...

  2. When students finish reading the article, they should decide on two or three questions to write about by determining whether the question was answered in the article.

    • Newsela PRO users can have students use Annotations in Newsela to track these questions, or non-PRO users can have students complete the first two columns of the graphic organizer.

    • Encourage students to quote, summarize, and paraphrase their notes.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. After students have finished reading their text or Text Set, have them discuss the text(s) they read in a small group, using their graphic organizer as a guide, and then ask volunteers to share their thoughts and notes with the whole class.

  2. Have students think about their topic to record a question (that was not answered in the article) to their graphic organizer.  

  3. Students should then discuss and decide on at least one resource where they might find the answer to their question.

    • Teachers might decide to limit the resources where students can search.

  4. Students should research and try to find the answer, then record in the graphic organizer whether they were successful in finding the answer.

  5. Have students transfer their responses from their graphic organizer to a Google Form or answer the question in the Newsela Write Prompt.

    • PRO Subscribers can edit the Write Prompt to reflect the goals of the strategy. Sample Write Prompt: What is one question you still had after reading this article? Where did you go to find the answer? Confirm whether or not you were able to find the answer to your question by answering the question. Be sure to cite the source you chose in your response.

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets

Letters from the Past

  • Essential Question: What are you still wondering about the text? Where will you find the information?
  • Grade Level: 5-12
  • Content Area: Social Studies/ELA

Women in World History

  • Essential Question: What are you still wondering about the text? Where will you find the information?
  • Grade Level: 3-12
  • Content Area: World History/ELA

Lesser-Known Stories of the Revolution

  • Essential Question: What are you still wondering about the text? Where will you find the information?
  • Grade Level: 3-12
  • Content Area: U.S. History/ELA

EL Modification

In this strategy, students can use the anchor chart to identify types of questions to ask as they read a text. They can also use the sentence stems provided in the implementation steps to craft those questions. Asking questions of a text supports EL students to engage in active reading by enabling them to identify parts of the text that they do not understand, and then empowering them to find the answers to those questions by consulting other resources.


  • Differentiate Vocabulary:

    • Review the article or Text Set prior to implementation in the classroom.  

    • Determine vocabulary that might be challenging.

    • Pre-teach vocabulary using flashcards.

  • Newsela PRO Subscribers can provide Newsela teacher annotations for students to spark new thinking.

  • Provide an Anticipation Guide to give students some background knowledge about the topic before they read it.

  • Consider providing a partner to read the article together.