Do you have students who struggle with reading comprehension? We know our young readers need a toolbox of reading strategies to help them comprehend texts, but it’s hard to not get lost in the seemingly complicated lessons to teach them. One great strategy to help students become better readers is questioning. But, there are so many ways to teach and different books for questioning that it can be overwhelming.
I created Interactive Read Aloud Lessons for Questioning with the busy teacher in mind. It has everything you’ll need to teach questioning all in one place. The lessons go with my suggestions on books for questioning, too. It has scripted lesson plans, a teaching plan, visual aide resources, and more. You’ll be totally set to help your students feel confident asking questions while reading.
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Let’s dig into questioning, how to teach it, and quality books for questioning that will help your students master this strategy.
Why is asking questions while reading important?
The big reason we want students to learn how to ask questions while reading is so that they will better comprehend the text. Remember, the ultimate goals of reading are to learn and to enjoy. Good readers think about their reading and ask practical questions to help them understand the book they are reading. We want students to learn how to think at a higher-level and ask thoughtful questions about books. A few great benefits to this reading strategy include:
- Students stay engaged in reading when they are asking questions.
- Asking questions naturally leads to wanting to keep reading to find the answers.
- Questioning helps build reading comprehension as students check for understanding while searching for answers while they read.
- Unanswered questions might lead students to read more books to continue their search for more information or answers.
We don’t want the goal to be just to find the answers. We want our young readers to search, think, and interact with the text.
How to Teach Questioning
Explicitly teach your students the reading strategy and why it’s important. You might say something like, “Good readers ask questions before, during, and after they read so they can better understand a book.” Just tell students what they will learn how to do and why they need to learn it.
1. Think out loud to show students your thought process. I like to choose a class favorite book, read it out loud, and share questions I might have about the book. To make this easier for you, you can place sticky notes with the questions you want to ask aloud in the book ahead of time. Then, share your thinking as you interact with the text and search for answers to your questions.
2. Introduce questioning phrases and sentence starters. We need to give students the vocabulary they need to be successful. You might even make an anchor chart with these basic question starters for students to refer to:
- I wonder…
- Why did…
- What if…
- I don’t understand…
- I’m still confused by…
3. Model how to ask questions before, during, and after reading. We want students to be thoughtful about questioning throughout the whole book. Encourage students to think about questions they might have after you share the title and a brief introduction, questions that come up during reading, and questions they still might have after reading or new questions that came up.
4. Have students write down their own questions during a read aloud for guided practice. As you read a book aloud, have students come up with their own questions before, during, and after reading. Encourage them to listen for the answers to their questions. They can jot down the answer they found or put a checkmark to note they heard the answer. This is a great way to informally assess your students’ questioning abilities.
Awesome Books for Questioning Lessons
All four of these books easily lend themselves to teaching students to ask questions while reading. You can show students the covers and give a brief introduction. Then, ask students to share what they are wondering about. Encourage students to jot down questions they have during reading and the answers (if they hear them). Finally, encourage students to think about questions they still have or new questions they have after reading.
- Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (Purchase it HERE. View a video of this book read aloud HERE.)
- The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg (Purchase it HERE and view a video HERE.)
- Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault (Purchase it HERE and watch a video HERE.)
- The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles (Purchase it HERE and watch a video HERE.)
Use these wonderful books for questioning to help your students gain a better foundation of reading comprehension. Remember, teaching readers to ask questions doesn’t have to be complicated. I think we can sum it all up with three simple steps:
- Model, model, model your thinking.
- Use quality books for questioning skills.
- Allow students time for authentic guided practice.
If you want help, coaching, and resources for teaching questioning, check out my questioning unit below!
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Interactive Read Aloud Lessons for Questioning This unit has seven days of scripted lesson plans that are perfect for the first grade classroom. They have been tested and used in a first grade classroom. They worked perfectly for introducing and practicing questioning.
The questioning unit includes:
- interactive read aloud notes
- reading strategy notes
- example teaching schedule to make lesson planning a breeze
- reading strategy anchor chart
- reader’s toolbox strategy tool
- seven scripted lesson plans