Asking and Answering Questions for Reading Comprehension

Author: Nicole


Questioning is a critical thinking skill that students can use before, during, and after reading to strengthen comprehension. This lesson idea will focus on three types of question-answer relationships: In the text, in your head, and in another source.


Explain to students that effective readers ask questions before, during and after reading. They seek information and clarify understanding. Start by having students generate questions by reviewing the title of a selection or skimming through the text. In modeling the questioning process, some students benefit from the prompt “I wonder…” Students can record their answer on post-it notes. Next, read the beginning portion of the text and via think aloud model how to ask questions and record them on post its. Other question prompts include “Why did…, What if…, What would happen if…, Who did…” Let students know that they may need to ask clarifying questions. {“It confused me when…What does this mean?”} Allow the students to read the next portion independently or in small groups. Keep in mind that as students generate questions, you may need to plant a few higher-level questions of your own. After students have generated questions onto their post-it notes, explain that there are several types of questions. Some have the answers stated directly in the text. In order to answer other questions, you have to add what’s in your head (your prior knowledge) to be able to answer. Then other questions have the answer in another source. {Text: Who is the main character? How did the character resolve the conflict? Head: Why was the main character jealous of his classmate? How would you have handled the conflict? Own: What characters from other texts have also experienced jealousy?} Use the graphic organizer to have students place their post-its in the appropriate column. Model with a class-sized graphic organizer. Then students can work with a group to add their post-its to the appropriate column in a group graphic organizer. Finally, select questions for the students to answer. Explicitly show how answers to In the Text questions are found directly in the selection. In Your Head questions require using your prior knowledge and supporting evidence from the text. After sufficient practice, allow students to work independently. In future lessons, as students move on to making inferences help them see that inferences are “in your head” questions.


For nonfiction text, it can be especially interesting to challenge students to find the answers to In Another Source questions. Students can take on these challenges for homework and then report back to the class.


Asking questions and examining question-answer relationships are ways to improve comprehension and critical thinking. Sometimes finding the answer requires asking the right questions.



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Key Skills

  • Problem solving
  • Ask Questions, Questioning
  • Inquiry
  • Literature (Key Ideas and Details)
  • Close Reading
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Making Inferences
  • Questioning


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Write questions about a text to gain a deeper understanding. How would you respond to questions with answers in the text, in your head, or in another source?


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