“Knowing the answers will help you in school. Knowing how to question will help you in life.” -Warren Berger. I love this quote! It’s so true. One of the ways we teach students how to ask questions is during reading. I love doing this with non-fiction text because if you choose the topic wisely – your students will naturally be curious about learning more – and this leads them to ask lots of questions! Third graders love to learn more about the world – especially places they have never visited. Here are 3 ways I teach students how to ask and answer questions in a non-fiction text that I hope will help them in life!
Table of Contents
Ask and Answer Questions – Start With a KWL Chart
A KWL chart is a perfect way to activate prior knowledge before the reading begins. Some students will have little or no prior knowledge, but that’s okay. Let students talk with each other about the topic before they fill out the K section. That way, they may recall something they already knew but didn’t remember.
In this example, students will be reading a non-fiction passage called Washington, D.C. In the example below, Draymond jotted down two things he already knew about the city.
Next, I want them to think about what they want to know. Students will write down questions they have about the topic before reading. This is another opportunity for students to talk about the topic with the hope and expectation that it will elicit more questions. Remember – asking questions is more important than answering them!
Underline the Answers in the Text
Next, my students will read the passage looking for the answers to the questions they asked and the questions I am asking. (See the questions below)
The second way I help my students answer questions is by requiring them to search for the answer and underline it when they do. It’s also helpful to mark the underlined information with the question number. In the picture above, Draymond has underlined the answers to questions 1 and 2 and marked them Q1 and Q2.
I love this strategy because it helps students find and zero in on the exact answer to the question. It also builds an important habit of finding the answer and not resorting to guessing to save time!
Use Sentence Starters to Cite Text Evidence
My last strategy is to teach my students how to answer questions using the text evidence they have underlined.
We use sentence starters or stems to show that the information was what the author stated in the text. In the example below, Draymond used two different starters: “According to the text” and “The author states.”
Both of these help him state the answer while citing text evidence.
If you need help teaching your students how to cite text evidence? Go to this post: How to Cite Text Evidence with Sentence Starters, and grab a FREE resource that you can use in your classroom right away!
Asking and Answering Questions
I didn’t forget about the KWL chart! After students have read the passage, I want them to go back and see if their questions were answered in this passage. If so, it’s important that they record it on the chart.
Asking a question, then getting the answer from reading encourages students to continue asking questions! When they experience success – they want to keep doing it!
I hope these 3 ways to teach students how to ask and answer questions help you in your classroom! What other ways do you teach this important skill? I would love to hear about them!
Do you need engaging non-fiction passages for your students to practice asking and answering questions? This set of 5 non-fiction passages all about visiting Washington, D.C. is perfect for a week-long lesson. Your students will be experts at this skill by the end of this week!
The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.Robert John Meehan
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