The purpose of the activity
To establish and clarify the purpose for reading a particular text.
Asking questions about a text helps a learner to establish their purpose for reading that text and to monitor how far their reading of the text is achieving that purpose. Asking themselves questions as they read also helps the learners to engage with a text and to monitor their use of reading strategies. After reading, the learners can generate and respond to questions to demonstrate that they have comprehended the text.
The teaching points
- Using questions to identify a relevant purpose.
- Purposeful and active reading.
- Suitable text(s) and questions on the text.
The guided teaching and learning sequence
1. Model both effective and ineffective questions and discuss with the learners why some are more effective than others.
2. Refer to the “What I want to know” part of the ‘KWL activity’ and have the learners note down what they hope to find out as a result of reading a particular text.
3. Use questions to identify a purpose for reading a particular text. For example, if the text is the Road Code, ask the learners “Why would you want to read this?” In answering the question, the learners will probably say that the reader’s purpose would be to identify and learn all the rules that a car driver needs to know to get their licence.
4. Alternatively, if the purpose for reading is already established, use this purpose to finetune questions about the text. For example, if the purpose for reading is to fill in a form to join a club, useful questions could be “What sort of information will you need to write on the form?”, “Where will you write your name?”, “What does M/F mean?”.
5. Suggest the learners add new questions of their own, as they read. (See the ‘Using question dice’ activity.)
6. Encourage the learners to ask reflective questions such as “Is there a better way to meet my purpose than reading every word of this text?” or “Can I picture what this would look like if it happened in real life?”