Think about your current job placement for a moment. Are you asked to solve problems that come up? Do you discuss with teams what you’re planning to teach next and how? As teachers, we’re constantly solving problems and questioning. Truth be known, we can not go through a day without asking and answering questions of someone or about something. In this post, I share ideas on teaching kids questioning skills to use as they read.
The Power of Questioning
The first idea I’d like to share is think aloud. It is one of the most effective ways to model questioning. I’ve shared many mentor text posts, and if used correctly, mentor texts provide opportunities for discussion every single time they’re used. The type of questions chosen can be geared to specific skills or vary in terms of complexity. For higher level discussion, we can think aloud to demonstrate (and scaffold) the thinking for and with our students. For mentor text suggestions, click the tab at the top to see mentor text posts on my site.
Using Question Stems
Another idea you might use for questioning are question stems. Many teachers are using interactive notebooks and graphic organizers to help students DURING the reading process to focus on specific skills. I think the main thing is to get kids to pull information from the text. Organizers and foldables help kids map out ideas, but most importantly, kids need to talk about those ideas too. Questioning helps kids focus on the right points. Thoughtful questions can be generated as a group, in pairs, or individually to move up the rigor to deepen thinking.
Recently, I came across [THIS FREEBIE], and I think it’d work beautifully with upper elementary students or for teacher lead discussions.
The 5 W’s
The next strategy for questioning I’d like to share is for the 5 W’s. For our standard in first grade, this is the focus. Unfortunately, there were a few friends who had a hard time coming up with questions about the reading, so I decided we needed something to support their thinking. However, I did want the workload to be on them. I created question stems using the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When, and Why) plus H (How). Now, the kids can flip through the stems to come up with a question if/when they are stuck. [Click Here] for a look at the resource to the left.
In order to keep the kids accountable, I wanted a graphic organizer for them to use. This helped them interact with the text. A while back, I shared this organizer using the 5 W’s plus H and The Day the Crayons Quit. If you want to use that lesson, you can click the title above, or you can use the organizer to the right with any book you choose.
I love to help students see the connection between the type of question they are working with and the information needed to resolve it. Tanny McGreggor developed Question-Answer Relationship years ago, and it has been very helpful to students especially as we try to up the rigor in the classroom. We need to be using Author and Me questions heavily and watch that we reduce the “right there” level questions.
Do we need lower level questions? Sure, but if we want kids to interact with the text more, then we have to show them how to make the question-answer connections. [THIS POST] was done recently using the book, Miss Rumphius. You can check that out for additional resources for QAR.
We all wonder, and getting kids to talk about things they wonder about leads to lots of talk. One easy anchor chart that can be used is to project and/or print a thought bubble for your kids to record and answer questions. You can project this one or create your own on chart paper. I love having kids record their ideas on sticky notes and share them for discussion. The organizer below is from Mr. Mault’s Marketplace. It is a handy choice for practicing with guided reading.
questioning with thick and thin questions
The final lesson idea I thought I’d share is the Thick and Thin Questions Challenge. There are quite a few thick and thin question anchor charts floating around on Pinterest, but by using an anchor chart like this one, you can show kids the difference between questions. Some are more challenging and require deeper thinking than others, right?
A great follow up activity is to sort question cards by type. Once your kids have a handle on how questions compare and have seen how we respond differently to them, then the next step is to have them create questions about their own reading. Doing this with a partner or in small groups may be preferred at first.
What lesson ideas do you have for this topic? I hope you’ll take a moment to share great lesson ideas in the comments.