“I have come to believe that the person who is asking the questions is the person who has done the thinking.” In a fascinating article about how to “flip” your read aloud, Lester Laminack writes that as teachers, we are doing the heavy lifting by generating the questions for our students to answer when reading a text. He argues that we are the ones synthesizing the information.
Laminack suggests that instead of generating questions about text for your students to answer, try “flipping” the activity. Have students generate the questions! The CCSS call for students to “ASK and answer questions…” but how often do you provide your students with the opportunity to come up with the questions about what they’re reading? I would bet that most of the time, we’re just expecting students to answer the questions we pose or that our curriculum poses.
Several years ago, I was being evaluated as a first-year teacher. I chose to invite my principal into an ELA lesson for my observation, as my students were in the middle of a novel study using My Father’s Dragon. The lesson I chose to teach was about how to ask questions about a text while reading.
Each time we would get to the end of a paragraph in our novel, I would have the students pause and process what they had just read. Then, students wrote a question about the text that could be answered by rereading that paragraph or whatever we had read so far that day.
I’ll never forget that my principal wrote in my evaluation afterwards that she saw EVERY SINGLE ONE of my students raising their hands during my lesson. Their engagement was off the charts! They were so interested in the way that I had “flipped” the objective for them. Instead of listening to find answers to questions that the teacher posed, they got to write the quiz questions for themselves!
Prior to this observation, I taught students about the different levels of questions that could be generated (based on Bloom’s Taxonomy). I used an interactive notebook to teach about the hierarchy and how the cognitive demand can increase with different types of questions. My students were challenged to “build” questions that went higher and higher up the levels.
Next time you’re working on a novel study or simply just doing a read-aloud, try “flipping” the activity and see what your students come up with! Be sure to read Laminack’s full article here; it’s truly an interesting read!