A Simple Idea for Helping Students Easily Restate the Question

When I was teaching fifth grade, I really had a nerdy love for teaching my students to answer open-ended questions and quote accurately from the text. Now that I'm in special education AND working with younger students, I've been wondering WHY I used to love teaching this so much. It is such a struggle for my students, and I've really had to slow down my brain and explicitly teacher each part of the process. Today, I am sharing my simple strategy for teaching your students to restate and answer open-eneded questions. 

We use the intervention included with the Reading Street series, which I absolutely love. With each reading passage in our leveled reader, there are questions for students to discuss verbally or in writing. Even though I type the question and hang it on our table basket, I have started writing the words on a blank piece of paper and cutting them up as well.

After we have read the passage and are ready to answer the question, we lay out the word cards and begin to decide how we are going to restate the question.

Here are the steps that we take: 

(1) Get rid of any "question words".

We talk A LOT about realizing that when you hear certain words, you are hearing a question, not an answer. When we are restating, we are giving an answer, meaning we don't care about those question words.

(2) Change the pronouns. 

Most questions include the word you, such as "What did you learn?" or "What do you think about..." When we are answering questions, we use first-person pronouns like I, or we if your students are working in groups.

(3) Rearrange the words to begin forming an answer. 

In this case, when we were rearranging, we didn't like the word about and thought that while would be a better fit. That's ok. Begin writing an answer that makes sense and sounds fluent when it's read aloud.

(4) Insert the answer to the question. 

At first, you may have to model this for your students. Over time, allow them to begin answering the question on their own. Obviously, this is a much harder task for your students. Give them time to make inferences and create their own answers.

I have a fun product to help your students answer basic questions about themselves and applying that to answering questions about reading passages. You can find it HERE on TpT.

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