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Self-Questioning

Proficient readers ask themselves questions about a text. Asking and answering questions like "what's important here?" and "who's speaking now?" helps readers interact with the text and engage prior knowledge. They are also addressing Common Core State Standards related to key ideas and details and the integration of knowledge and ideas. Teach struggling readers' how to engage in self-questioning to increase engagement and comprehension. Use hypertext and collaborative documents to support your students' experimentation with this approach.


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Using a self-questioning strategy can encourage struggling learners to monitor their understanding of the text. Your clear explanations can highlight critical features of the self-questioning approach, especially when you integrate a range of technology tools as suggested below.


Steps:


Step 1: Provide Clear Explanations


  1. Define literal, inferential, and evaluative questions—the three basic types of questions students can ask themselves to support reading comprehension.
    Definitions of three types of questions


    • Literal questions: The answers are "right there" in the text (e.g., details, key works, main idea, core concept)
    • Inferential questions: To find the answers, readers must think deeply and use context clues to look beyond what is stated outright.
    • Evaluative questions: Readers must consider different perspectives, make a judgment, and/or take a position.

  2. Explain that there are many ways to produce these questions, including writing in the margins, typing comments in a word processor document, adding notes to a collaborative document, making an audio recording, creating a semantic map, or discussing with a partner.
  3. Show students how to create a four-column chart on their devices to record their questions before, during, and after reading, with headings such as these: What do I know about this topic? What am I learning? What more do I want to know?
View evidence behind this recommendation


IES Recommendations


Provide explicit vocabulary instruction


Evidence:
Strong


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices


Provide direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction


Evidence:
Strong


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices


Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies


Evidence:
Strong


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade


Step 2: Give Students Strategies and Models


  1. Provide students with a set of potential self-questions, both general and tailored to their reading task.
    Possible questions students can ask themselves


    • Does what I am reading make sense?
    • What am I supposed to be learning?
    • Where am I getting stuck?
    • How does this relate to what I already know?
    • What am I learning?

  2. Model how to ask questions before reading with anticipatory questions, during reading with self-monitoring questions, and after reading with assessing-for-understanding questions. Use hypertexts and mixed media to create a document with appropriate self-questions embedded via hypertext or word processor comments. Use Vine or similar programs to link audio questions to a written document.
  3. Use math, reading, social studies, and science texts to shows students which types of questions cut across all content areas and which are content-area specific.
View evidence behind this recommendation


IES Recommendations


Teach students to identify and use the text’s organizational structure to comprehend, learn, and remember content.


Evidence:
Moderate


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade


Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies


Evidence:
Strong


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices


Step 3: Provide Opportunities for Practice


  1. Ask students to generate their own questions, share questions with peers, and respond to their peers' questions as well as their own. Have students co-read a text (e.g., in  a Google Doc or using Etherpad) and ask questions of each other in real time.
  2. Provide multiple opportunities and environments for students to use the self-questioning strategy during reading, writing, and discussion. Record audio clips of students reading aloud and pausing to ask themselves questions.
    Ways to weave questioning into reading, writing, and discussion activities


    • Ask students to respond to a text by answering questions about a character's decisions.
    • Ask questions that require students to compare two texts about the same topic.
    • Create a class discussion board on which students can pose questions to one another.

  3. Display the kinds of “question starters” used by students and discuss when and how these can be used across content areas.
View evidence behind this recommendation


IES Recommendations


Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies


Evidence:
Moderate


Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices


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