Our building recently acquired a new collection of nonfiction trade paperback books that I have been excited to use with my class in guided reading groups. It took some time for the books to get cataloged by our librarian so that students could check them out, but I was able to get my hands on these books yesterday. I made sure I planned for enough time to meet with each of my four guided reading groups and introduced the books to them and the goals for our reading.
In the process of doing so, I also knew that I wanted to focus on not just the text and comprehension, but also the ability of students to recognise the types of questions they often encounter when responding to nonfiction. A few years ago, my colleagues and I decided to emphasise these types of questions through the Question-Answer Relationship model proposed by Taffy Raphael. We had an old handout that describe these relationships, but we wanted it updated, so we turned to my wife and asked her to use her graphic design skills to help out.
I introduced the QARs before the books, guiding the students through a discussion about “right there” and “think and search” questions that require them to look through the book and “author and me” and “on my own” questions that require them to connect to prior knowledge. I asked them to provide examples of each of the four questions and these are samples of what I heard:
- Right There: What year was the Declaration of Independence signed?
- Think and Search: What are some of the major causes of the Revolutionary War?
- Author and Me: What kind of person is Julian (from Wonder by R. J. Palacio)?
- On My Own: What do you know about Washington, D.C.?
After sharing the books that the students will be reading over the next couple of weeks, I explained that we would be using these relationships to discuss what they read and what they were learning. Each of the texts will connect to our social studies units on early American history, including the history of Washington, D.C., the Trail of Tears, Abraham Lincoln, and the Oregon Trail. Each group will be responsible for sharing what they learned with their classmates and writing their own questions to reflect each of the four relationships.