Something else that I am so thankful for are pefect lessons. Have you ever planned out a lesson and thought this is it. This is perfect. The kids will definitely get this. And then they didn't? Hopefully this has not happened too often. Well this in NOT what happened to me last Wednesday. It is really hard to believe that a whole week has already gone by. Anyway I digress. Like many of you we have a new evaluation system in my district (CAST) and it has everyone a little anxious, mostly because it is new. Well I was planning out my lesson and I decided to teach the comprehension strategy of questioning. I love Debbie Miller and she has a chapter on questioning in her book Reading with Meaning so I think this is a great start. I copy her first lesson idea and even use the book Grandfather Twilight like she suggests. My students do well with the whole concept of good readers need to stop and ask questions while they read. So I decide to introduce the QAR question stems with my students one type at a time. We are able to get through "Right There" and "Think and Search" questions before my observation. So the question type that I will teach for my formal observation (with the principal) is "Author and You" questions. These are definitely higher level so that's great! I choose to read Cynthisa Rylant's The Bird House, (also a suggested text of Debbie Miller) which turned out to be the perfect book because there are lots of natural places to ask all types of questions, plus it's not too long, and even better it is a rather obscure book so no one except me has ever read it before. The day of the observation my class was on it! They gave AWESOME responses (I swear I didn't give them the answers ahead of time or pay them or anything-although it almost seemed like it). They worked in partners after the mini lesson for more practice-then one group shared with the class, then they read independently for more practice-then shared again. Even my guided reading group was fabulous. Then for the closing and this was priceless. My students gave PERFECT answers to "How can I use the questioning strategy to be a better reader?" At the end of my lesson I was floating on cloud nine. Not only had my students fully grasped the type of questioning that we were working on but also after only three lessons working with the questioning strategy they could tell me why it was important to ask questions while they read. Of course it didn't hurt that the principal saw the whole thing. : )
So I say all that to say don't lose heart. Our job is hard-but no on ever said it was going to be easy they just said that it would be worth it! I also wanted to share with you the QUESTION STEMS, from QAR that I used to help my students through the questioning strategy just in case you are interested in using them with your students. They were extremely helpful for the students to have access to when they were asked to ask both themselves and a partner questions. Until next time . . .