Questions and Thinking in Common Core
Part 2: Students as Questioners
Whether we work with a common text read by the whole class or a text that students choose for independent reading, there are a number of strategies for helping students to engage with text on a meaningful level. Two of these, Questioning the Author, and Question-Answer-Relationships, have questions as key components.
The strategy known as Question-Answer-Relationships, or QAR, developed by Taffy Raphael, teaches students different types of questions that to ask about a text. Awareness of question types prepares students to better answer them. Reading Rockets offers an explanation for teachers unfamiliar with this strategy. Basically, students practice responding to four types of questions:
- Questions that have answers that can be found “right there” in the text
- Questions that can be answered by pulling information from several parts of the text (“think and search”)
- Questions that require information from the text along with the student's background knowledge (“Author and You”)
- Questions that ask students to form an opinion based on evidence from the text. (“On My Own“)
Although the original QAR strategy did not require text-based evidence for Author and You and On My Own Questions, the Common Core requires us to constantly bring students back to the text, and the QAR strategy is easily tweaked to include that.
An engaging way to begin teaching this strategy is to use wordless books and have students practice QAR with images first. This might be particularly helpful with the very youngest readers and with English language learners. A lesson plan is available here, from readwritethink.org, along with this list of recommended books.
Once students are accustomed to the strategy, they can apply it to texts with words, using text-dependent questions that you generate. Eventually, as you release more responsibility to students as readers and questioners they can generate these types of questions for each other, and challenge their peers to answer them.
For additional resources, download this QAR poster at Scholastic and use this guide for helping students practice the QAR strategy.
Question-Answer Relationships • Questioning the Author • Questions to Guide Inquiry