Reading and Lines: Guiding Students to Question

>The student who answers questions is passive. The student who writes/asks questions is active.  That being said, how do we get students to ask questions that are meaningful and thought-provoking?

Teach them how to write leveled questions.  What are leveled questions, you ask? They’re questions that are on the line, between the lines and above the lines. That is…

Level One: (on the line): Questions answered with facts from the text. You can put your finger directly on the answer.
ex.  In Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which bowl of porridge did Goldilocks eat?

Level Two (between the lines): Questions that require an inference to answer. You can put your finger on the evidence that supports the answer.
ex. What kind of person is Goldilocks?

Level Three (above the lines): Questions that are open-ended and draw in our own schema as well as evidence from the text.
ex. What different kinds of reactions can people have if someone breaks into their house?

Some uses for the questions students generate:

  • Socratic seminar
  • Fishbowl discussion
  • Games
We’ve talked in workshop about student involvement. If we want students to engage with the texts we’re asking them to read, they have to take some ownership of the material and the learning process. I’m willing to bet that they’ll care more about the answer to a question they’ve written than an answer to a question I’ve written.
It’s not enough to want kids to question everything. We have to show them how.

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