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Questioning is when readers ask and answer questions about a text and seek information to clarify and promote a deeper understanding of the text they are reading.


Good readers pose and answer questions to help monitor their comprehension, deeply engage in a text and to understand the intentions of an author. Asking questions helps propel a reader further into a text, monitor their comprehension and deeply engage in the text they are reading, viewing and listening to.


Proficient readers ask questions to:

  • Clarify meaning when they are confused
  • Wonder about what will happen next
  • Determine the author’s intent, style, content, format, etc.
  • Locate a specific answer in text
  • Consider questions that cannot be answered in the text
  • Satisfy their own curiosity

We want to develop and foster curiosity in our students as well as helping them learn how to effectively pose and answer questions to get a deeper understanding of texts. Here are some ideas to help get you started...

"I wonder..."

Providing students with the sentence starter "I wonder" after modelling how to pose questions about a given text, provides students with the opportunity to freely explore their own curiosities surrounding a text. Have students write their wonderings on post-it notes and share/discuss with the class.

Thin (literal) and Thick (inferential) questions

Teach students the difference between literal (thin) and inferential (thick) questions by deconstructing and constructing questions and answers. Devise a list of characteristis that you can continue to build about the different types of questions (e.g. Thin questions tend to deal with specific content or words and the answers can be found directly stated in the text. Answers to thin questions are usually short and closed. Often, our answers are similar when we ask thin questions about a text. Thick questions deal with larger concepts and require us to use evidence from the text along with our own knowledge and experiences to come up with a reasonable response. Our answers to thick questions are usually longer, more complex, require justification and are often different).

You might try:

·         Guide students to create Thick and Thin Questions. Look at an image or read or listen to a portion of text and prompt students with connection stems, such as ‘Who, what where and when…’ for thin questions and ‘Why or what if…’ for

·         Have students create Thick and Thin Questions for the texts that are reading, viewing or listening to. They can write their questions on large sticky notes for thick questions and small sticky notes for thin questions.

·         Share questions and answers in large or small group discussions.


Sticky Questions


1.       As the students are reading their chosen text they are to make note of any questions that they have on sticky notes.  The sticky notes are placed where the question occurred to them. When the answered is identified move the sticky note to where the question was answered, write the answer and recode it with an A (for answered)


2.       Questions can be categorised as

·         Thin -Literal level of comprehension where the answer is right here in the text (who, what where, when etc)

·          Thick - Interpretative level of comprehension. The answer is found by joining together information from two or more places in the text )( why, how come etc)

·         Evaluative/ Critical/ Analytical - Answer comes from your background knowledge (what issues were addressed, what does the author want you to believe, do you think it might be better?Did you ever consider?)

3.       Questions can be categorised at the end of the reading

·         A - question was answered in the text

·         BK - question answered from someone's background knowledge

·         I -  questions whose answers can be inferred from the text

·         D – questions for further discussion

·         RS – questions requiring further research to be answered

·         C or ‘HUH’ – questions that signal confusion


Question web

Similar to semantic webs, a question web has a question in the centre. The lines from the centre are used to add information that relates in some way to the question, with the ultimate goal of building an answer from all the bits of information.


Other resources: Question sort activity Question-Answer relationships Questioning the Author GREAT question stems!