Primary Question-Answer Relationships

Grade Levels: K - 3

Lesson Summary

This lesson introduces the Question-Answer Relationship strategy to primary students. Students should be able to differentiate between a question and a statement, and to generate questions before, during, and after reading.


  • Students will identify and explain question-answer relationships in texts by identifying where to find the answers to questions.

  • Students will categorize types of questions by sorting the question-answer relationships.

Key Understandings

  • Asking and discussing questions improves our comprehension of the text.

  • Understanding the question-answer relationship will help:

    • Look for the answer to a question in the right place

    • Answer questions accurately


  1. Lesson Introduction

    Say to students, "Today we are going to learn about question-answer relationships. Understanding question-answer relationships will help us look for the answers to questions in the right place. Why might it be important to understand where to look when we are trying to answer questions about a story?" Review the lesson objective and key understandings with students.

    The levels and types of comprehension questions are described below.

    A. In the Text

    The answers are right there in the text. These types of questions are literal.

    • Right There

      The answer is in one sentence of the text; the question and answer usually have the same wording. Answers usually are one-word or short-phrase responses. There is usually only one right answer to Right There questions. Some examples of phrases used for Right There questions: Who is....? When is...? Where is...? How many..? When did...? What is...?

    • Think and Search

      The answer is found in several parts of the text. The question and answer have different wordings. Answers are usually short answers. Some examples of phrases used for Think and Search questions: For what reason...? How did...? Why was...? What caused...?

    B. In My Head

    Students must use their prior knowledge to answer these types of questions.

    • Author and Me

      The answer to the question comes from both clues in the text and students' prior knowledge. Students must synthesize the text to fully understand the question. Some examples of phrases used for Author and Me questions: Would you...? Which character...? Did you agree with...? What did you think of...?

    • On My Own

      The answer comes entirely from students' prior knowledge. These questions require inferential and evaluative thinking. Answers do not require information from the text, but do require that students make some type of judgment about or relate to the topic of the text. Some examples of phrases used for On My Own questions: Do you know...? Have you ever...? Would you ever...?

  2. Demonstration

    Say to students, "One strategy that good readers use to make sure they understand or comprehend what they read is to ask and answer questions. Today we are going to learn a questioning strategy that you can use whenever you read to help you understand the relationship between questions and answers. If we know where to find the answers to our questions, understanding or comprehending the text we read will be much easier! Now, just to get our brains warmed up, I'm going to ask you a few questions that I would like you to discuss with a partner."

    Ask students the following questions, and then define as a class. Have them turn to a partner and share an example of each. Remind students to refer to the class definition to check their partner's answers.

    1. What is a statement?
    2. What is a question? Share student-generated questions and answers.

    Then say to students, "Now, I know that the students in this class are already good readers, so let's see what you know about how to answer questions." Have students list prior knowledge about answering questions in their journals and then share answers with the class. List the collective prior knowledge on a chart. As students share answers, guide the discussion so it includes where they look to find the answers to questions.

  3. Explore

    Select a text that is familiar to students, for example, fairy tales, folktales, or a favorite class story. Before reading, ask students to discuss and examine the cover, noting the title, author, and illustrator. Discuss prior knowledge and predictions about the story. Assist students in crafting questions from their predictions. Choose a few students who are proficient writers to record the questions on sticky notes. With younger students, model the writing, or use shared writing. For example:

    • Prediction: I predict that the third billy goat will push the troll off the bridge.

    • Question: Will the third billy goat push the goat off the bridge?

    While reading the text, stop occasionally and encourage students to ask additional questions about the story. Record the questions on sticky notes. After reading the story, record on sticky notes, any remaining questions that the students may have.

  4. Explain

    Define QAR as stated in the key understandings. Provide several examples of each type of question. As a class, read some of the student-generated questions and help students classify the question-answer relationship. If students struggle, first ask them to split the sticky notes into two categories (The answer is in the book, The answer is in my head, I need my head and the book to answer the question). Then assist the students in refining the categories to Right There, Think and Search, Author and Me, and On My Own.

  5. Guided Practice

    Select a new text to read aloud. It may be easier to start with a narrative text and progress to expository and functional texts as students become proficient with this strategy. Record questions as a shared writing activity. Older students can write questions on sticky notes. Read one question aloud at a time. Ask students to state the QAR and then answer the question. Write the questions or categorize sticky notes on a class chart. Or, share answers using the popcorn popper game. Divide the class into four groups (Right There, Think and Search, On My Own, Author and Me). Read each question. Students should pretend they are popcorn kernels and pop when the answer to a question falls under their QAR category.

  6. Assessment

    Tell students that another class in your school will read the same book they read today and that both classes will have a book discussion. To be sure everyone understands the story, have each student write four questions for the other class to answer, one question for each QAR category. Then have students write a note to the other classroom's teacher explaining why it is important to discuss a variety of types of question types.

  7. Reflection Journal

    Have students answer these questions in their reflection journals:

    "What types of questions were easiest to categorize?"
    "What types were most difficult?"
    "What types of questions were easy to write?"
    "What types were difficult to write?"

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