This lesson is designed to expand primary students' skills in questioning, using the Question-Answer Relationships (QAR) strategy. In this lesson, you will teach students how to use QAR by reading from Frog and Toad Together, by Arnold Lobel and modeling QAR questions as you read. Students will then learn how to generate QAR questions on their own. This is the third lesson in a set of questioning lessons designed for primary grades.
Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
Planning and Diagnostics
The QAR strategy is one of several strategies that you can use with students to help them build reading-comprehension skills. The QAR strategy involves students making some fairly subtle distinctions among different types of questions. Students should already have learned to ask questions about texts they are reading (e.g., questions before, during, and after reading ). Other than this, it is hard to know whether students are ready for the QAR strategy without trying it out. If you think they may be ready, try it. If most students struggle, wait a few weeks then try again!
Begin by reviewing what students have already learned about how to ask questions as a way to understand the meaning of texts. For example using this reading questions framework ask them to talk about the kinds of questions they can ask before, during, and after reading.
Next, introduce the idea that there are two kinds of questions you can ask about texts. Explain to students that an "In the Text" question is a question that students can find the answer to by looking in the book that they are reading. An "In My Head" question is a question that requires students to think about what their own knowledge is to answer the question. Review a book that you have recently read aloud with students. Write the example below on a piece of chart paper or on the blackboard. Choose a few "In the Text" and "In My Head" questions about the book that obviously belong to one category or the other, and have students tell you in which column to write the question. When you give students a literal question, have them show you where they found the answer in the book. When you ask them an "In My Head" question, go through the book with them and show them that they couldn't find the answer in the book. Have them give answers to the "In My Head" questions and explain how they answered them (i.e., thinking about what they have learned that is not in the book). Here are some examples of the two types:
"In the Text" questions "In my Head" questions What is the title of the book? What is the author's name? How long is the book? Do I like the title? Have I read any other books by this author? How long will it take me to read this book?
Explain that they are going to learn more and ask these types of questions about a new book you are going to read together.
Explain that you are going to read the first three chapters of Frog and Toad Together aloud to them, and they are going to help you make a list of "In the Text" and "In My Head" questions. Then, they are going to help you answer the questions and see how these types of questions will help them to understand the story.
Review with students the four types of questions explained in the QAR Strategy. Explain that there are two types of "In the Text" questions and two types of "In My Head" questions. Draw a copy of the QAR table on chart paper or on the blackboard or use an overhead projector. The table should look something like this:
"In the Text" questions "In My Head" questions Right There Think and Search Author and Me On my Own
Read the first chapter, "A List," from Frog and Toad Together aloud to students. Next, write the questions listed below under the "Right There" heading. Read the questions aloud, look through the chapter, show the students where you found the answer, and then think aloud the answer.
What is the first thing Toad writes on his list? "When I turn to page 4, I see that the first thing Toad writes on his list is 'Wake up.'"
Who is the friend Toad goes to see? "When I turn to page 9, I see that Toad goes to see Frog."
Next, write these questions under the "Think and Search" heading. Read the questions aloud and then think aloud the answers.
Think and Search
What caused Toad to forget what was on his list? "I read that Toad's list blew away and Frog did not catch it, so that is why Toad couldn't remember what was on his list."
How did Toad finally remember what was the last thing on his list was? "Frog reminded Toad that it was getting dark and they should be going to sleep – the last thing on Toad's list."
Next, write these questions under the "Author and Me" heading. Read the questions aloud and then think aloud the answers.
- Author and Me
What do you think of Toad's list? "I think that writing a list of things to do is a good idea. But, Toad could have left off some things, like waking up or getting dressed, because he doesn't need to be reminded to do that."
Did you agree with the reason Toad gives for not chasing after his list? "No. I think that he should have chased after his list, even if it that wasn't one of the things on his list. He couldn't have written that on his list anyway because he didn't know the list would blow away."
Next, write these questions under the "On My Own" heading. Read the questions aloud and then think aloud the answers.
- On My Own
Have you or somebody in your family even written a list of things to do? "Yes. I have written a list of things that I have to do on a weekend day because that is not like a school day. On weekends, I do lots of different things, so I have to write a list to remind myself of all the things I have to do."
What would you do if you lost your to-do list and couldn't find it? "I would look for it for a while and if I couldn't find it, I'd write a new list of things to do."
Read aloud to students the second chapter, "The Garden," from Frog and Toad Together. Create a new QAR graphic for this chapter on chart paper or the blackboard or use an overhead projector. Then, give students the questions listed below and ask them to help you place the questions under the correct heading and then to help you answer the questions. Ask students to explain why they placed the questions under the headings they did. For example, for the "Right There" questions, they can point to where the answer is and for the "On My Own" questions, they answer the questions based on information they already know, and so on.
Which character, Frog or Toad, knows more about growing seeds? (Author and Me)
What did Toad say to his seeds to get them to grow? (Right There)
Have you ever planted seeds before? (On My Own)
How does Toad try to help his seeds grow? (Think and Search)
Would you have done what Toad did to try and get his seeds to grow? (Author and Me)
What advice does Frog give Toad about growing seeds? (Think and Search)
Do you know what makes seeds grow best? (On My Own)
What kind of seeds does Frog give Toad? (Right There)
Read aloud to students the third chapter, "Cookies," from Frog and Toad Together. Divide students into pairs or small groups and have each group come up with one of each type of QAR question for Chapter 3. Tell students to draw a picture or write what they can for the question. Tell students they need to be able to tell what type of question each one is and then they have to answer the questions. Once students finish the activity, bring the class together and write each group's questions on the board and have members from other groups answer the questions. Ask students to explain how answering questions about Frog and Toad Together helps them understand the chapters and think more about the subjects and how they might relative to their own lives.
To assess whether students have mastered QAR, read aloud the next chapter, "Dragons and Giants," to them and give them a QAR graphic organizer. Ask them to write or draw one question that belongs under each heading. Then, have them explain, write, or draw what they can to answer each question.
Reflection and Planning
Determine which students understand QAR by seeing how they did in their group activity and on their assessment. Read aloud the last chapter, "The Dream," to students and have them do the same activity they did in the "Assessment" section. If students are struggling, you might want to only use "In the Text" and "In my Head" questions until they are competent in classifying questions into those two categories before moving on the using all four categories. If you find that only a few students are having trouble with this strategy, try to work with these students more intensively in a small group. Encourage all students to use QAR as a reading-comprehension tool when reading other fiction and nonfiction books with them in class.