Struggling Readers, Self-Questioning, and Digital Text

Instructional Strategies: 
Self-Questioning

Many struggling readers are passive rather than active readers. They have difficulty interacting with and making personal meaning of the ideas in the text. One evidence-based strategy that helps students’ reading comprehension is self-questioning. This practice requires students to think about what the text means, make predictions, draw conclusions, and evaluate the information. When students use the self-questioning strategy, they are engaged in close reading, a critical skill emphasized in the ELA Common Core Standards for reading literature and informational texts.

Students can pose their own questions before, during, and after reading by following these steps. 

  • Before: Preview text and create a set of guiding questions to check comprehension later, during reading.
  • During: Pose questions to constantly check understanding while engaged with the text.
  • After: Generate and answer study questions related to information gained from the text.

Review these two articles for more descriptions of and strategies for self-questioning: Teaching During Reading Self-Questioning Strategies  and Teaching After Reading Self-Questioning Strategies

Digital texts have built-in embedded supports that allow students to compose and answer questions before, during, and after reading:

  • Before: 
    • Insert anticipatory questions
    • Highlight headings and make predictions
    • Skim text and highlight unknown words and context clues to predict meanings
  • During
    • Highlight key words and phrases
    • Insert questions and comments
    • Follow embedded links to explore ideas and ask how this information expands on the text
  • After
    • Insert questions and highlight possible answers
    • Copy and paste information to compare

There’s more to explore on PowerUp WHAT WORKS about self-questioning! Begin with the Self-Questioning Instructional Strategy Guide. There you will you find an overview of the strategy, evidence-based teaching tips, suggestions for technology tools, and relevant Common Core Standards. Read the Lesson in Action for a step-by-step example of how a teacher used self-questioning to differentiate instruction for her students. 

Want more information on embedded supports? Check out these short informative Quick Views (videos): Embedded Supports to Differentiate Instruction for Struggling Students and Embedded Agents.

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