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How to Teach Questioning Reading Comprehension

The act of questioning should be done whenever we read. However, many adults have stopped doing this and therefore the skill is being neglected with children as well. We learn much more when we ask questions about our reading and vocabulary. We also feel less self-conscious about the things we do not know when we build our questioning skills. In todays world, more than ever, it is important that we question what we read, both in fiction to develop skills and in non fiction and news texts to ensure we can recognize bias and untruth.

What is the Questioning Reading Comprehension Strategy.

Questioning as a reading comprehension strategy encourages readers to engage with the text.  Using questioning strategies will help the reader understand both the meaning and the purpose of the texts they read. It is also the sign of a more developed reader, as there is less emphasis on actually reading the words, as these skills are already developed, and more focus on understanding and comprehending the meaning and intent of the text.

Therefore emergent or younger readers are less likely to us this strategy. Below we have some ideas to introduce it to all levels of reading ability.

Post it and Sticky Notes in the book

Teaching students to use sticky notes can keep them from writing in books or materials you might need to reuse. When students are reading, help them use sticky notes to write down questions about the reading. Students can place sticky notes near the passage that is causing issues. They might write the word or a phrase that they need help learning more about.

These sticky notes can be used to keep track of answers as well. Students can place the note on the paragraph that they are having trouble understanding and note what is tripping them up. They can also jot an explanation on the same sticky note. These sticky notes can also be different colors for different types of notes. For instance, yellow notes might be vocabulary, and blue might be background concepts, while pink is process questions. Using sticky notes also means that things can be rearranged when they need it.

Get the K-W-L Chart back Out

When using the KWL ( what I know, What I want to know and What I learned) chart, we often write down things that we want to know. If your students only wrote the things they already know, this is an excellent opportunity to think about everything they want to know about things. When making their list, emphasize the importance of questioning. We have K-W-L charts on the site and in our Reading Comprehension Resources pack.

Questioning lets us know what we want to know and what our associations are already. Students may ask questions directly related to the reading, but they may also ask questions about the writing process or the knowledge of the author. This will allow you to begin talking about credible material and experts. This is especially good when you are exploring nonfiction topics. Even science fiction and other stories that may require research can bring questions. Is Neil Gaiman a scientist? Why does Dr. Seuss create weird words? Is J.K. Rowling a wizard? While some of these questions may be difficult to answer or unanswerable, but they can also let you know what the children are interested in learning, and the more they know about authors, the more they may connect with the material.

Using Q-A-R

Q-A-R stands for Question-Answer-Relationship. This relationship connection helps students learn where and how to answer questions asked of the text. These questions come from four different relationships with the text. Each relationship connects to a different type of question and “Bloom’s Taxonomy” skill. Bloom’s taxonomy is simply a hierarchy for learning material. Some material is simply known, but with other information, students might be able to synthesize or create from the things they learn.

  • Right There Questions– These are questions that the answer can be derived directly from one or more consecutive words in the text.
    • These questions can be things like, “Who is the main character?” “Where was Jim born?” “Who wrote Pinocchio?” or similar. These questions are on the page with no “reading between the lines.” In Bloom’s terms, this would be knowledge.
  • Think and Search Questions– These questions are not obvious. They are not “right there” in the text. However, they are pretty easy to find. The answer may take place throughout the text or passage.
    • These questions might be, “What are the steps to the scientific method?” “What were the major events in Einstein’s life?” “How does the group react to the news?” or other questions that may require thinking or organizing the information. In terms of Bloom, applying or understanding might be the appropriate categories.
  • The Author and You Questions- These questions ask students to relate the text to their own lives.
    • These questions may be composed of, “Have you ever felt like Anne?” “How would you feel if you suddenly had to move to a new country?” Blooms levels here are applying and synthesizing.
  • On My Own Questions– These questions are questions that cannot be answered in the text. There is no clear answer, but students have to use what they read to answer them.
    • Questions might be, “What do you think Wilson will do next?” “Why do you think Cinderella was the servant in her house?” “Would you buy that car if you could?” In terms of Blooms, this is often considered creation or construction. Students must build more information into the activity.

The relationship between development of Higher Order Thinking and Reading Comprehension Strategies should be becoming more and more apparent. If students can master these strategies it will improve not just their reading skills but also their cognitive abilities both of which will serve them well in the future.


The self-questioning strategy means that children learn to interact with the text. They begin interacting even before reading. This may be through using KWL charts, but it could also be used during a book walk or other previewing strategy. This strategy can then be carried over to the after reading period.

  • Before Reading- What do I know about the subject? Who do I ask if I get stuck on a concept? Are there concepts that I am unfamiliar with already? Do I see vocabulary words? Is there a glossary?
  • During Reading- These questions are like the sticky notes from above. Students can ask questions while reading. They might make notes on a sheet of paper or use sticky notes. Is there a concept that they do not know?
  • After Reading– Sometimes, when we finish reading, we still do not have all of the information we need. Students can be taught to ask the questions they still need to be answered.

Any level student can use these reading comprehension strategies. Even toddlers have prior knowledge and are always full of questions. They just need little guidance and instruction on the types of questions and where to find the answers themselves. These strategies can also help reluctant readers feel more open to reading. They can see that there are things we all know or need to know and that learning new concepts can be a challenge for everyone. If your child struggles with comprehension strategies, you can also show them, guide them, and let them. This would mean that you show them how to use the strategy, guide them through using it, and then let them do it independently. Our resources will help children go through this process much easier you can se them here.

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on info@makingenglishfuncom.wpcomstaging.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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