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Elaborative Interrogation

Description 

This activity helps students to assimilate and consolidate new learning that is consistent with their prior knowledge. Students perform an iterative process of asking and answering the question “Why is this true?”, thus using their prior knowledge to justify and integrate their new learning.

Learning Strategies 

  • Determining Importance
  • Questioning
Skills 
Factual, Inferential and Universal Questions, Generating Questions

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts

Preparation 

  • Identify the text or presentation for which you would like students to use this strategy. You should pick something that is new, but for which students have adequate background knowledge to understand. Alternatively, you can prepare a set of statements of key ideas for a new unit and ask students to perform the activity on these statements.
  • Prepare a two-column graphic organizer. The left column should be labeled “New idea,” and the right column should be labeled “Why is this true?”
Activity Steps 
  1. Teacher leads discussion about the new content. Students share their reasoning for why they know the main ideas are true. Students add to their graphic organizers as new ideas come up.

    Encourage students to continue adding to their graphic organizers as they hear ideas that further their points.

  2. Teacher leads discussion about the new content. Students share their reasoning for why they know the main ideas are true. Students add to their graphic organizers as new ideas come up.

    Encourage students to continue adding to their graphic organizers as they hear ideas that further their points.

  3. Teacher leads discussion about the new content. Students share their reasoning for why they know the main ideas are true. Students add to their graphic organizers as new ideas come up.

    Encourage students to continue adding to their graphic organizers as they hear ideas that further their points.

  4. Alone or in groups, in writing or in conversation, students reflect on their learning process.

    Students respond to questions including: · How did answering the question “Why is this true?” affect your learning of the new material? · How could you ensure that your elaborations are as helpful as possible? · In what other context might this strategy be useful to you? · How do you think you could use this strategy when you are reading? When you are listening to a lecture? When you are studying for a test?

Downloadable Resources 
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