Kids are naturally fascinated by animals, and I can honestly say that I’ve never met a kid who didn’t love visiting a zoo. They are always filled with questions, and of course, the scarier the animal, the more questions they have.
Asking and answering questions is an important skill no matter what grade level you teach or the subjuct you’re working on. As students progress, questions deepen in complexity and purpose. Questions check comprehension and deepen understanding of material read, but questions also guide student research and exploration too. As adults, of all job related skills we need, asking and answering questions is probably at the top no matter what career path you take.
With questioning, it’s important to start with analyzing questions. If we can help kids understand that not all questions are equal and that some questions are going to be more difficult to answer than others. That some questions require us to explain with more detail than a simple response, then they will be more equipped to answer them with detail.
To help demonstrate this, I like sorting thick and thin questions as an introduction. You might use a t-chart and print questions on post it notes for sorting like the resource to the right using the book, Snowmen at Work. Having your kids work in groups to discuss whether a question is thick (answer figured out in the head) or thin (answer found in the book) helps them think about why they fit each criteria.
Teaching Kids to Question Before/During/After:
First of all, using question stems can help your kids generate questions of their own. You can put them on task cards, hole punch the corner, and add them to a ring for your kids to have as they are reading like this resource I created for first and second grade. My students created and recorded their own questions before and as they read. Then, they added their answers as they discovered the information needed to respond. These can be used with any text.
Directed Reading Thinking Activity is a method teachers can use to help students make and confirm predictions. Students generate questions based on the information they know and read to find the answers in sections. At the predetermined stopping points, students create new questions and repeat the process.
SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Respond, Review):
QAR (Question Answer Relationship)
Finding Text Evidence
Using Questions to Guide Research
In addition to using questions to check and deepen understanding of what students read, we also use questions to drive curiosity and exploration. Student research should start with student curiosity. Generating questions about a chosen topic helps students narrow the searching and helps the student keep focus.
During this time of year, it is a lot of fun to research cold weather or polar animals. This paper bag book includes eight animal options, and it is organized by research topic including:
- Animal Facts
- Animal Habitat
- Animal Diet
- Animal Adaptations
- Predator/Prey Relationships
- Animal Threats
- Summarizing My Learning
- Research Note-Taking Sheet
- and a Grading Rubric
This resource pairs well with the close reading resources in my store as well and in fact, all five close reading sets and the paper bag book are bundled in the resource to the right. The close reading sets can be used to work on questioning with nonfiction texts in small groups and help students with starting the research process. The close reading sets focus on five animals:
The Arctic Fox