Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Questioning and Comprehension

Here are two great books to use when you're teaching questioning to your students. Have them preview the book and ask "before reading questions". Remind them that good readers don't always find answers to their questions. Sometimes, though, the questions are what keep us reading and understanding. If you can ask a meaningful question, then it demonstrates that you are really thinking.

In The Wise Woman and Her Secret, the little girl in the book is taught to keep "wandering and wondering". It's a great way to help readers understand that we do the same thing as we read: We wander through the book and wonder about characters, setting, problems, and solutions. This book is beautifully illustrated and is probably best-used with students in grades 2 and higher.

Have students make a list of their own questions from before, during and after reading. They can put them on sticky notes and post them on a chart paper labeled, "Before, During, and After". Let them compare and contrast.

The second book was once a popular "war-song" by Peter, Paul and Mary. It is called, "Day is Done". Have students listen for the questions presented by the singer as well as the child. Then have them ask their own questions.
The book includes a CD in the back with the song on it. (Note: I like the original Peter, Paul and Mary version much better as it is a bit faster.)

Still readers love listening to songs made into books. It's a great way to discuss interpretation as well.

Remember to teach your readers that there are meaningful questions and "fluff questions". Readers must be asking about the deeper meaning of a book if it's going to help their comprehension. Those surface-level questions (what color was the character's shirt?) are OK, but they generally don't lead to more understanding.

Happy Questioning!