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Questioning the Author


This activity helps students to connect the content of a text with the author’s perspective and intention, and in doing so to develop a richer understanding and appreciation of the text. This process helps students to evaluate an author’s message, and also to evaluate the style and quality of an author’s writing. Students ask questions of the author, using the following question types: Why is the author telling you that? Does the author say it clearly? How could the author have said things more clearly? What would you say instead?

Learning Strategies 

  • Determining Importance
  • Inferring
  • Questioning
Author's Intent, Reading as a Writer

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Text-Based Answers


Identify a target text, possibly one that is slightly confusing or unclear at points. Do research on the author, and consider why and how the author wrote the target text.

Activity Steps 
  1. Teacher provides students background information on the author, and the author’s relationship with the content of the text. Teacher provides context of the text.

    The model text can be projected or put on an interactive whiteboard.

  2. Teacher models reading from a text, and asking and answering the four types of questions. Teacher models recording questions and responses in graphic organizer.

    You may want to model using a text that is familiar, or that is slightly below the students’ instructional reading level. Doing so will allow them to focus on the strategy rather than on grappling with the text.

  3. Alone or in pairs, students read from the target text. As they read, they stop at several points to ask and then answer the four questions. Questions and responses should be recorded, perhaps using a three-column note graphic organizer.

    As students read, circulate among them and sit with each student for at least 3-5 minutes, conferring with them about their reading and thought process.

  4. Class discusses the generated questions as a group, and the answers to some of the questions. Class identifies certain key questions that do not have obvious or fixed answers. Students may reflect on these questions in writing or presentations.

    It may be useful to assign students different sections of the text, and to ask them to respond at greater length in writing to the four questions in reference to their text section.

  5. Students reflect on their learning process, considering how questioning the author can help them to comprehend text.

    Students may reflect individually or in groups, in writing or orally. They should respond to these questions: What did you learn through this activity? How did you learn this? What strategies did you use? How did questioning the author affect your learning today? How did it affect your comprehension of the text?

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