Self-Questioning Text Comprehension Strategy

Making predictions and asking questions is not only an important part of the scientific method.  It is part of the comprehension strategy of self-questioning the text.  Much too often, the teacher is the only one asking questions that are getting answered (Tovani, 2000).  Encouraging students to ask “I wonder…?” of the text not only gets them interested in the reading material, it also helps build an inquiry based classroom.  Good readers constantly question the text.  This strategy improves comprehension in four ways: forcing students to interact with the text, self-motivating students to continue reading, clarifying information in the text, and helping students infer meaning beyond the literal interpretation. 

Strategy Steps

Day 1- I wonder. . .

  1. Model "I wonder. . ." statements for the class.  They do not have to do with any particular text.  They are simply statements about what you wonder in life.  Write the list on the board.
  2. Ask if anyone else wonders anything.  When a student offers something they wonder, write "I wonder. . ." for what they say on a piece of chart paper. 
  3. Continue to gather "I wonder. . ." statements from the other students in the class, adding their thoughts to the chart paper.  Be sure not to answer any of the questions.  Emphasize that today is for concentrating on questions, not answers.
  4. Have students create poems from their wonderings and questions. 

Day 2- The text

  1. Display a passage of text that can be read during class.  (A newspaper article is an excellent option.)
  2. Begin reading it aloud to the class.
  3. Stop reading abruptly to share what you, the teacher, are wondering about the text. 
  4. Write what you wonder in the margin of the text.
  5. Continue reading and modeling the questioning strategy.
  6. Include student's "I wonder. . ." comments in the margins of the text.

Day 3- They wonder

  1. Select a short passage of text for students to read. 
  2. Allow students time to read the text and to write down what they wonder in the margins. 
  3. Remind students that some questions may be answered directly.  Other questions may not be addressed in their reading at all.  They do not have to answer the questions at this moment.
  4. As a whole class, discuss what everyone wonders.  Create a list of what the class wonders about the article.   

Day 4- Classification

  1. Copy each of the questions created from the class list onto two note cards--one in red ink and one in blue.
  2. Post five piece of chart paper on the wall with the following labels with the corresponding colors: In the Text, In My Head, In Another Source, Ponderable Questions, and Clarifying Questions
  3. When students enter the classroom, give each at least one note card.
  4. Ask a random student to read his note card.  Is it written in red or blue?
  5. If the question is written in RED, ask the student in which of the three charts he thinks the answer to his question might be found.  If the question is written in BLUE, ask the student if the question is a ponderable question (possibly without an answer at all) or a clarifying question.
  6. Have students tape their questions on the appropriate piece of chart paper.   

Teaching students to ask questions and to determine if and where they can find answers helps students interact with the text.  It also raises their curiosity, encourage further exploration and reading.


Implementation Guide

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