How, Why: Do I Understand?

Reading to Learn

Bridgett Wilson


Rational: Students read for a purpose! However, some students do not know what that purpose. The purpose is Reading Comprehension. This is an important skill for all students to master in becoming successful and independent readers. To achieve this goal, students need to two comprehension questions: how and why. When a reader thinks about these questions while reading a book it inadvertently engages the reader and helps them connect with experiences that are happening. This lesson will help the student understand and encourage the importance of reading comprehension and how to successfully obtain it.



White board


The Sheep Book by Carmen Goodyear (one per student)






1.)    Introduce this topic by asking: What is the goal of reading? That is right we have been talking about reading comprehension and why it is important. It is important that we understand what we have read so that we can apply our knowledge to real world experiences and/or answer any questions about our reading. The two comprehensive questions that are required to help the children reach this goal are how and why (Teacher will have these displayed on the white board). “Why is it important to ask how?” Why is it important to ask why?” Students will give several answers that probably include: reading labels at grocery store, newspapers, and educational information.

2.)    Discuss silent reading strategies. “Can anyone tell me what silent reading is? Why is it important that we learn how to read silently?”  Explain that silent reading is not just saying the words to yourself, but also reading for meaning through comprehension.

3.)    The teacher will go over model the process of silent read by explaining how he/she goes through the process. “While reading the text to myself, I am going to ask myself some how and why questions. ‘Why did the author choose to put the character in this situation?’, ‘How does this affect the story?’, ‘How does the character respond to the situation?’, and etc.” By explaining the process he/she goes through, the students will have an understanding about what they should be doing while engaging in silent reading.

4.)    “We are going to be focusing on reading comprehension, let us try it!” The teacher will distribute an example expository text. The students read silently while asking themselves how and why questions. After the students have completed the reading, the will write down a brief summary of the text. At the bottom of the page they will write the how and why questions they asked themselves that helped them form the conclusion.

5.)    The class will read their summaries and their how and why questions. This will give the teacher a chase to make sure everyone is on track.

6.)    “I want everyone to take a few minutes and silent read The Sheep Book by Carmen Goodyear”. After everyone has completed the book, have the students get out another sheet of blank paper and a pencil and write a summary about the text. They will include the how and why questions they asked themselves throughout their reading.

Assessments: The students will be assessed by their summary and example questions. The teacher will be able to see if the students comprehended the text by their questions. The teacher will then be able to individually help the students that did not either ask good questions or comprehend the text.




Goodman, Carmen. The Sheep Book. Lollipop Power, NC (1972). Pages 24.


Wright, Madelyn. The 5 W’s. (Fall 2006). Retrieved April 13, 2008 from:


Smith, Melanie. To question or not to question. (Fall 2006). Retrieved April 13, 2008 from:


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