Comprehending through Questioning

Michelle Copeland
Reading to Learn

Rationale:  Children need to develop comprehension strategies to be able to understand what they are reading.  This lesson will help students to learn comprehension strategies of their own.  Students will learn the story-grammar training methods.  This lesson will also help to motivate students to want to read for understanding.

Materials:  paper, pencil, poster paper, markers, Rumpelstiltskin (Zelinsky.  Dutton)  Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak.  Harper Collins) Destinations in Science (Brummett.  Addison-Wesley, 1995)

1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that comprehension is the overall purpose of reading, and that understanding what you read is essential for learning.
2. Review silent reading, and have students read silently a passage out of the textbook, Destinations in Science (pages A24-A25).  Tell students that silent reading will help them understand what they are reading because they are reading to themselves at their own rate.
3. Explain to the students that there are questions we can ask ourselves while we are reading that will help us in comprehending.  The following are the questions that we can ask:  Who? What? Where? Why? When? and How?  Tell them to ask themselves these questions while they are reading silently.
4. Read the book Where the Wild Things Are to the class.  Have the students discuss the six questions that were discussed earlier, when you stop throughout the book.  Tell them that while you are reading, you want them to think about who?, what?, where?, when?, why?, and how?, so that we can talk about the answers.  By stopping and discussing periodically, this will help one remember what they read.  Model by saying, as I read, I am going to ask myself these questions.  “Who is the main character?” (the little boy)  “When did the story take place?” (around dinner time)  “Where it took place?” (in the boy’s house)  “What was the main idea?” (the little boy learns a lesson)  “Why did it happen?” (because he did not obey)  “How did it happen?” (He dreams about wild things and realizes his mother is not all that bad.)  When you stop, start the discussion of the questions to help them get started.
5. Put the students in six groups to read parts of Rumpelstiltskin.  Have each group read a couple of pages and then discuss what they read.  Have a piece of poster paper and a marker for each group to write the significance of their pages on the paper.  Have them draw something also.  Then, after everyone is done, have each group tell about their pages and poster paper in the order of the book.
6. For assessment, have the students silently read an article from Destinations in Science pages A14-A15.  Then, ask them to write out the questions one can ask themselves and the answers to them from the article without looking back.


Sendak, Maurice.  Where the Wild Things Are.  Harper Collins.
          Zelinsky, Paul O.  Rumpelstiltskin.  Dutton.

Pressley, M. Johnson, C.J. Symons, S., McGoldrick, J.A. and Kurity, J.A. (1989)
          "Strategies that improve children's memory and comprehension of text."
           The Elementary School Journal, 90, 3-32.

Brummett, David C.  Destinations in Science.  Addison-Wesley Publishing Company,
              1995.  pgs.  A24-A25 and A14-A15.
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