Questions Please!

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • March 30, 2016, 4:35 p.m.
  1. Show students a concrete object that is unusual or unfamiliar to them.  Listen and list questions as they begin to flow from natural curiosity. 
  2. Create a sensory situation. Bring in an unusual food for students to try. Brainstorm questions before eating that can be answered by eating the food.  Connect this to reading a new text or learning a new concept.  How does questioning help you understand the new ideas better?    
  3. Create an anchor chart with question stems.
  4. Teach students the strategy Question-Answer-Relationship (Rafael, 1982).
    1. Right there Questions-Look at questions and identify if the answer can be located in a specific place. These are “thin” questions with short answers.
    2. Think and Search Questions-Is the answer to the question a category or summary? Do you need to located several pieces of information and put them together to create a “thick” answer? 
    3. Author and You Questions-Does the answer require that you draw a conclusion, make a prediction, or generalization using evidence from several sources or locations, as well as your prior?
    4. On Your Own Questions-Should you go beyond the new learning to answer the question? Does the question call for you to use the new learning to make a decision, solve a problem, or develop a hypothesis?

Have students generate all four types of questions throughout a unit of study. Curious learners retain more critical knowledge and apply new knowledge to many situations. 

Need more lessons on asking questions with your students? Visit our online store and download the Asking Questions Lessons product on our page at


Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

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Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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