Tips for creating possible questions

Question creation guidance

I refer to these as possible questions because they are meant to be there to help you direct the discussion if the students aren’t in a productive discussion. The eventual goal is for most of the exchanges to occur among students with the facilitator occasionally prompting for elaboration (Pennell, 2014).

Boyles (2013, p. 40) provides four basic questions she believes students should learn to ask themselves during reading:

  • “What is the author telling me here?”
  • “Are there any hard or important words?”
  • “What does the author want me to understand?”
  • “How does the author play with language to add to meaning?”

The article by Boyles (2013) also provides much more in depth suggestions for questions related to the author’s craft of writing. If your purpose is to examine craft, I recommend a closer look at this article. Boyle believes most text-related questions should require students to consider the text but also not have one right answer. These are the types of questions I hope will be shared on this website.

Wartenberg (2014) and Pennell (2014) focus on the philosophical questions addressed in storybooks. This idea might seem intimidating, but these authors make it clear that this type of thinking can begin in the early grades, and they help adults understand how to facilitate it. Wartenberg identifies “big ideas” such as why it is wrong to steal and what makes a person brave. He not only provides accessible introductions to philosophical issues, he also suggests storybook specific questions to help guide children’s dialogic discussions. Suffice it to say, I cannot do justice to his book on a webpage. I was able to find his book in my county library, but I quickly purchased the ebook so I could highlight and take notes at will.

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