Lucy has written this excellent account of how she has been developing questioning within reading:

In order to ensure that students’ reading is purposeful, we have found that questioning is really important.

We have been trying to train students so that they can answer the questions that we ask, but more importantly that they begin to ask themselves these questions as they are reading.

I have this grid as a prompt for students to ask each other questions.  I also use this as a prompt for myself and with lower ability students I ask them to decide a question that they feel comfortable answering before I speak to them.  Sometimes I will tell students that I am just asking a specific type of questions.

Questions about content:

  • What happened/is happening?
  • What is it about?
  • When does…?
  • Who is…?
  • How much…?


Personal and emotive questions:

  • How did you feel when…?
  • Was it fair when…?
  • How might you improve…?
  • Was this in keeping with the rest of the text?
  • What did you like/dislike?
  • Does this text remind you of any books, TV programmes or films?


Inferential questions:

  • Why did that happen?
  • Why did that character behave in that way?
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • What is unusual about the event or character?
  • Why do you think the author included that event/character?


Questions about purpose and effect:

  • Are there any words that you think are particularly effective or unusual?
  • Identify a punctuation mark that is used to create a specific effect.  What is the effect?
  • Identify sentence structure that is used to create a specific effect.  What is the effect?

I have also started to play ‘I Spy’ as a homework task with private reading.  This is based on the books from when I was little (if anybody remembers them!).


Students are given a key focus during their reading that is based on their own target, for example:

– simple sentence for a specific effect

– complex sentence – subordinate clause at the start

– complex sentence – subordinate clause at the end

– complex sentence – imbedded clause in the middle

– compound sentence

– effective sentence start – first word or first few words

Sometimes I will have a whole class focus or will et students choose one of these.  They then try to complete the ‘I Spy’ task, with questions getting increasingly complex:

  1. Identify an example of this type of sentence.
  2. How else could the writer have written this sentence?
  3. Explain what effect it has on the reader.

As feedback, students then have a range of options to choose from for how to present their understanding to the group:

  • Read out the sentence and ask group to draw what it shows.
  • Read the sentence and ask them to identify the connective.  Ask them to find another connective.
  • Read out the sentence and ask group to add punctuation – could it be read in different ways?
  • Write down the main clause from a complex sentence and ask your group to suggest a subordinate clause.
  • Give the group the subordinate clause and ask them to suggest a main clause.
  • Write the sentence down and ask the group to label how they feel at different stages.

Alternatively I will ask for verbal or written feedback.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s