I ask Myself Why?

Reading to Learn

Brittany Roberts

Rationale: Comprehension is an ultimate goal of reading. Comprehension is the ability to understand the meaning or importance of something read. In this lesson, students will use comprehension strategies so that they can understand and retain the information they are reading. Students will learn to ask questions about story structure in order to better understand the text prior to reading, while reading, and after reading as well as examine key components such as main characters, conflict, and resolution.



1.  Teacher introduces lesson by assessing how familiar students are with asking questions while reading.  Teacher asks:  "How many of ask yourself questions as you read a book?  Good readers ask themselves questions as they read to better understand what is going on in the book.  Some questions a reader might ask are ‘Who are the characters in the story?  What does the title tell me?  What is the problem in the story?  How are the characters going resolve the problem?’  You might find that when you ask a question and find the answer, you have to ask a new question to learn more about the story.  By continually asking questions, the reader becomes a detective.  Today, we are going to practice being reading detectives.  We will do this by asking ourselves questions before we read, while we are reading, and after we read.  Let’s get started!

2.  Teacher models for students the process of self-questioning while reading Cindy Ellen.  Teacher will read Cindy Ellen aloud to class.  Prior to reading, introduce the book by showing the front cover and stating the full title (Cindy Ellen:  A Wild Western Cinderella).  Tell students:  "Now that I know the title of the book and can see the illustrations, I would ask myself ‘What do I think this story is about?  What is the title telling me?  Do the pictures tell me the same thing?’  To answer my questions:  I think to myself, Because of the title, I think this story might be similar to Cinderella, but is set in the West.  The picture on the front shows a cowgirl with a horse, so that seems to help my prediction.  But I still have a few questions, like:  Will there be stepsisters and a stepmother?  Is Cindy Ellen the character that’s similar to Cinderella?  Where does the horse come into play?  I’m going to have to read to find out." 

3.  Teacher will then read a couple of pages to establish a good character base.  Teacher will then model by saying "I’ve found out a couple of answers to my questions.  I now know who the main characters we have met so far.  Have we found any differences between Cindy Ellen and Cinderella?  Maybe a few, like Cindy Ellen’s father is still in the picture.  One of my previous questions was what does the horse have to do with it?  We haven’t found that out quite yet." 

4.  Teacher will continue reading until after the problem is introduced.  Teacher then says:  "Now that we have found out the problem, we need to ask ourselves a couple more questions.  What is the problem Cindy Ellen is facing?  How do you think she will deal with it?  Is this problem similar to Cinderella’s problem?  We have to keep reading to find out."

5.  Teacher reads to the end of the book then asks:  "Now that we have finished the book, we need to answer our questions.  How did Cindy Ellen solve her problem?  What did the horse have to do with the story?  Is the story of Cindy Ellen similar to Cinderella?  By asking these questions, we have been reading detectives and have used clues from the story to help us answer our questions.  When we ask ourselves these questions, we help ourselves understand what is happening."

6.  Teacher passes out copies of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.  Teacher will instruct students to read silently after giving a book talk.  "Alexander T. Wolf was just a wolf that wanted to make a cake for his sick grandmother.  When he goes to make his cake though, he finds that he is out of sugar.  To remedy his problem, he goes to visit his neighbor, the pig.  Problem is, Alexander T. Wolf has a cold.  So while trying to get some sugar for his grandmother’s cake, he accidentally sneezed and blew the pig’s house down.  What happens when the wolf goes to the next pig’s house?  Will he ever get the sugar for his cake?  Let’s read to find out!"  Teacher and students will use a 3-column chart on the board with the categories Before, During, and After.  These stand for the questions and predictions we form before we read, during reading, and after we read.  Before students begin to read, the teacher will ask students to pose questions or make observations based on the title and front cover of the book.  Teacher will record on the Before column of the chart.  Allow students to begin reading, stopping frequently to allow students to record their questions on the During column.  Students will then fill in the answers as they find them.  Teacher should remind students that they should ask themselves questions and then become a detective to search for the answers.

7.  After reading, the class will discuss the chart.  During this time, students will answer questions about story structure (questions about characters, conflict, resolution).  Teacher will ask students:  "Was it easier to find some answers than others?  How did you find your answers?  Did you have to read or could you look to the pictures as well?  What do you think about the Wolf after reading the story? 

8.  Assessment:  Students will pick a book from the class library to read individually.  Each student will then complete a 3-column Before/During/After chart on their book, asking themselves questions and answering their questions as they read.  Teacher will walk around the room to make sure students are filling in their charts as they read. 



            Cummings, Amanda.  "Detectives ask WHY!"  2007.  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/cummingsrl.html

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