Asking & Answering Questions

roanokeWe’ve been learning how to ask and answer questions that lead to deeper thinking during Reader’s Workshop.  First, we learned about the difference between thick and thin questions.

  • Thick questions lend themselves to deeper thinking because they aren’t answered in the text.
  • Thin questions are often answered quickly and answers are right there in the text.  We are trying to write thick, deep thinking questions while we read independently in our reader’s workshop.

Good questioning leads students to deeper understanding of the text. To support their learning, we read two outstanding mentor texts to explore questioning.  The Librarian of Basra and The Lost Colony of Roanoke are both engaging, thought provoking texts students find easy to ask both thick and thin questions.

After generating lots of questions during our interactive read aloud, we categorized them according to how we might answer them.  We coded our answers based on how we answered them.

img_3818AAnswered – These questions are thin questions that are answered at a later time in the text.  The answer is stated directly in the text.

IInferred – This is the most common way unanswered, thick questions are answered.  Students use text clues to “read between the lines” and infer the answer to their questions.

RSResearch – These questions are answered by doing additional research.

BKBackground – Sometimes we have background knowledge that helps us answer our questions.

DDiscussion – Discussing a question with a peer or teacher can also be a way to answer our questions.

Huh? – This signals confusion and should be cleared up immediately by rereading.  Questions that signal confusion shouldn’t be written on sticky notes.

basraTechkids will practice asking and answering thick questions for the rest of the school year with both fictional and informational text.  We expect them to ask questions that reflect deeper thinking when they read independently, and now they will need to answer them as well! Techkids summarize the answers to their questions every week or two when they track their thinking.

The most discussed question:  Who bombed Basra, Iraq in 2003?  Students struggled to accept it was the United States. We will reuse this book to explore multiple perspectives in the second trimester.

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