Margin Notes

BOOK BITS: GENERATING QUESTIONS AND READING WITH PURPOSE

Nov
26

Children are naturally curious and come to our classrooms well versed in posing questions. On an average day, children ages 2-10 typically ask 288 questions (Frazier, Gelman, & Wellman, 2009). What could happen in a classroom where teachers leverage that natural curiosity into meanful and purposeful reasons to question and read?  This very idea is explored in a 2016 article When Readers Ask Questions: Inquiry-Based Reading Instruction”, by Molly Ness in The Reading Teacher, volume 70 (2).   One activity explored in this article that can leverage their natural curiosity to ask questions is referred to as Book Bits.   

Book Bits begins with a pre-read aloud or pre-reading activity that has the teacher sharing short phrases from the text.  These phrases are important to the text and provide hints about characters, setting, plot, resolution and narrative structures. The book bits support the reader by capturing their curiosity, activating background knowledge, stimulting predictions and setting a purpose for reading. Children are not shown the book or given the title.  Students are provided with one fragement or phrase on an index card.  Each child only sees one book bit (see example). Students are asked to make or jot down a quick prediction based on their book bit. Students then have an opportunity to share their book bit with 2 or 3 other students.  Once this is done students can then add to and revise their original predictions. The teacher then leads a whole class discussion based on student predictions. 

(When Readers Ask Questions: Inquiry-Based Reading Instruction”, by Molly Ness in The Reading Teacher, volume 70 (2)) 

To extend the lesson into a question generating session, share the entire list of book bits and model using who, what, when, where, why, and how to kick start questioning. For example, “How did their fingers get callused?” As well, consider checking in with students and guide them in turning their predictions into questions. The teacher can then record all of the questions generated by the class (see example). 

 (When Readers Ask Questions: Inquiry-Based Reading Instruction”, by Molly Ness in The Reading Teacher, volume 70 (2)) 

Once this list of questions is generated it is time to share the text.  As students prepare to listen,Bits ask them to put their thumb up every time they think they hear something in the text that answers one of the questions. Pause when thumbs go up and discuss both the question and how the book provides the answer. 

Have students talk with an elbow partner about some of the questions they have that were either unanswered or outside the scope of the text. Record those questions (see example). This unanswered list of questions can lead to further inquiry during the literacy block or other project-based learning opportunities. 

(When Readers Ask Questions: Inquiry-Based Reading Instruction”, by Molly Ness in The Reading Teacher, volume 70 (2)) 

Book Bits provide students with powerful ways to generate questions and read with purpose.  As they generate further questions after reading, children can learn that proficient readers need to use multiple sources to answer questions, gather data and form opinions. According to our Atlantic Canada English Language Arts Curriculum Grades 4-6, …”children by the end of grade 5 should be able to answer with decreasing assistance their own questions and those of others by selecting relevant information from a variety of texts”, and Book Bits is one activity that supports students in meeting this outcome

 To Read the whole article try the ILA search on the International Literacy Association website (if you have a membership) or use the Ebscohost link. 

 

Ness, M. (2016). When Readers Ask Questions: Inquiry-Based Reading Instruction. The Reading Teacher, 70(2), 189-195. 

 

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