Questions Scaffolds using Newsela for Elementary Students

Students think more deeply about a text as they write higher-level questions with modeling and support
11 teachers like this strategy
Modeling Question Scaffolds

About This Strategy

Competent readers engage with texts and read actively, asking and answering key questions as they go. The Question Scaffolds strategy requires that elementary-aged students ask questions about what they read, and it encourages higher-order thinking. At first, the teacher models asking different types of questions, and then students begin to develop their own questions through a gradual release model. Generating different types of questions in response to a text helps students think more clearly about the text, and it ultimately improves student engagement and comprehension.

Before Reading Implementation Steps

Teacher Preparation and Planning: 

  1. Choose a familiar book to use with the students to demonstrate questions representing various levels of the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy. This could be a text that the class has recently read, or it could be a picture book that would be a quick read-aloud. Examples in this lesson are for the book "Pete the Cat and the New Guy" by Kimberly and James Dean.

    • Note: The Revised Bloom's Taxonomy contains six different levels of questions. Elementary students do not need to worry about classifying and creating all six types of questions. For this strategy, the Bloom's levels have been grouped into three levels - Level 1: Remember and Understand, Level 2: Apply and Analyze, and Level 3: Evaluate and Create.

  2. Prepare questions ahead of time for the chosen text for each of the different levels of questions in the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy. Sample questions for "Pete the Cat and the New Guy" are included for teacher reference in the resources below.

  3. Choose a Newsela article or Text Set for students to use when implementing this strategy.

Student Preparation: 

  1. Read the book that will be used to model how to ask and respond to questions representing various levels of the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy. If using "Pete the Cat and the New Guy," some questions/tasks that could be asked to the class after reading the text are:

    • What are two activities that Gus could not do with Pete and his friends? (lower-order thinking question)

    • Based on Gus's experience in the story, design a plan that would help new students feel welcome when they first come to our school. (higher-order thinking task)

  2. Ask students to turn and talk with a partner about the difference between the two prompts. Have students share with the whole group, and facilitate a brief discussion about higher- and lower-order thinking questions.

  3. Explain to students that they will be asking higher-level questions about the texts that they read. Introducing all of the types of questions at once may be overwhelming to elementary students, so consider introducing one set of questions at a time. 

    • Using a resource like the slides that are linked in the resource section below, introduce the Remember and Understand questions.

    • Share with students the example questions prepared in Step 2 of Teacher Preparation and Planning. The example questions for Pete the Cat are embedded in the slides, but these could be changed for whatever text is chosen to introduce the strategy.

    • Brainstorm with the students examples of other questions that would fall under Remember and Understand, and add them in the space on slide 3.

    • Once students understand Remember and Understand questions, explain to them that they will practice generating Remember and Understand questions related to a Newsela article. 

    • Students will repeat these steps - once they are ready - for Apply and Analyze and then again for Evaluate and Create.

During Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Assign the Newsela article or Text Set to the students. When creating the assignment, decide whether to provide it at the Newsela Recommended reading level for each student or to adjust the reading level to a particular grade for all students. With this strategy, it may be easiest if all students read the same version of the article.

  2. Have students read the Newsela article with a partner. For the first read, have the students generate two Remember and Understand questions and share them using Newsela Annotations or on a graphic organizer like the one that is linked in the resource section below. These questions should be color-coded yellow to match the colors in the slides and the graphic organizer. Display the example questions from the slides on the board so that students may refer to them as they work.

After Reading Implementation Steps

  1. Review student questions to address any misconceptions or mistakes. Depending on student performance, give feedback and additional instruction in pairs, small groups, or the whole-group.

  2. Repeat this process (step 4 under Before Reading/Student Preparation and Planning as well as all of the During Reading steps) for Apply and Analyze questions and then again for Evaluate and Create questions. As students re-read the Newsela article each time, they should notice more about the text, and their comprehension should deepen.

  3. Have students pair up and share their questions with one another. Students should answer the questions orally and then choose one question to respond to in writing.

    • Newsela PRO users may ask students to write their responses as a Write Prompt. Teachers should modify the Write Prompt as follows: Share one of the questions that your partner asked about today's article, and then share your answer to that question. 

    • Non-PRO users may ask the students to write their responses as an exit ticket. A sample handout for this exit ticket is included in the resource section below.

Recommended Newsela Texts or Text Sets

Career Day Cruising

  • Essential Question: What career path is right for me?
  • Grade Level: 2-5
  • Content Area: Social Studies, ELA

Weather Watch: Keeping an Eye on the Sky

  • Essential Question: How can severe weather impact people's lives?
  • Grade Level: 2-5
  • Content Area: Science

Children's Literature

  • Grade Level: 3-5
  • Content Area: ELA

EL Modifications

Using Newsela allows students to read articles at their own reading levels without missing out on key content. Reading articles at a "just right" level as well as the modifications below support EL students in building their language acquisition skills. 


  • Students may read the article with a peer or with a small, teacher-led group. Students may also listen to the article using a tool such as Google Read&Write (see resource section below).

  • The teacher may provide EL students with sentence frames to support them in their question writing. Sample sentence frames are provided in the resources below.

Teacher Tips

Sarah Bayer
Newsela Master Teacher
  • This strategy need not be a stand-alone strategy. The thinking involved in the Question Scaffolds Strategy may lead to other discussion, written responses, or group activities, such as a Gallery Walk or Chat Stations.

  • Once students are familiar with different types of questions, you may encourage them to generate questions whenever they read text, not just in your class. You may want to share the strategy with your curriculum team so that other teachers in other content areas can reinforce the skill with the students.