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How can I use questioning to better understand and attend to what I read?
Learn to ask authentic and guiding questions about a text.


Time To Complete 

4-6 hours

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.10

I Can Statements 

  • I can:
    • Ask questions to clarify and extend my understanding of texts, explore my own ideas, and solve problems
    • Ask questions to help me clarify the main ideas in a text, identify the characteristics and qualities of a text (such as fiction/non-fiction, first-person/third-person), and compare and contrast the text to others I’ve read
    • Ask questions to identify the most relevant parts of a text (such as relevant numbers in a word problem, or data trends in an experiment)
    • Describe the difference between “thick” and “thin” questions
  • I will know my questions are of high quality when they:
    • Clarify and extend my understanding of a text
    • Explore my own ideas
    • Help me to solve problems

Suggestions for Assessing Student Readiness to Move Forward:

  • Confer with students, asking them to share their questions about a text and explain how the questions deepen their understanding of the text.
  • Ask students to self-evaluate their work after completing one of the activities below. 


Possible Activities 
  1. Model reading a text aloud, while displaying it to the students.  As you read, stop periodically and briefly ask a question aloud about what you are reading.  Jot down the question if you want, but don’t stop long enough to significantly disrupt the reading.  Think aloud about the words or events in the text that lead to the questions, and why (e.g., “When I read ____, this makes me wonder ____ because ____.”).   Model asking a wide variety of questions.  Model asking authentic questions: What do you really wonder, or what did you really wonder the first time you read this book?

    • Students should practice questioning in groups and individually by reading texts and stopping periodically to ask questions:
      • In groups of two to four, students should take turns reading a text aloud, with each student sharing questions as they read.  They can record their questions on chart paper and present some of them to the class.
      • Have students read a text individually, and record questions in two-column notes or on Post-its.
      • They should continue various forms of practice until they are adept at questioning a text.
      • Challenge students to ask all three categories of questions, and to use a variety of sentence stems and types of questions.  Encourage students to ask things they are really wondering, not just something someone could ask.  Encourage students to look for the answers to some of their questions as they continue reading. They should continue various forms of practice until they are adept at questioning.
  2. After several days of practice and once they have achieved mastery, students should write a reflective summary of their third text selection, including a summary, a discussion of theme, and questions. This reflective summary should be included in their portfolio.

Downloadable Resources 
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