Friday, September 28, 2012

Answering vocabulary questions! Strategies that work

When teaching students to answer vocabulary questions, they need to have a strategy! But before they can use the strategy, they need to know what type of question they are answering. 

The four main types of reading comprehension questions are:
  1. Vocabulary
  2. Right There or Find the Fact
  3. Clue Word
  4. Main Idea

If a question does not fit into any of the four categories, then they will have to have some specific knowledge in order to answer it. If they lack the knowledge, all they can do is try to eliminate poor response choices and then guess.

Teaching the Strategies
All students should be taught to approach each reading test selection like this:
  1. Read the questions before reading the selection.
  2. Highlight the key words taking special notice of the “buzzwords” if there are any.
  3. If a question refers to a specific paragraph, star that question and immediately find the relevant section of that paragraph. Check to see if the correct answer is “right there”.
  4. Write the type of question it is: vocabulary, find the fact/clue, main idea
  5. Then, read the selection.
Reading the questions before the selection clues the reader in to what they are going to read and what to pay attention to. Highlighting keywords like those boldfaced gives the reader a deeper understanding of what is being asked. Writing the question type lets the student focus on what strategy they will use to answer the question. The following strategies are applied AFTER all the above steps have taken place.

Vocabulary Questions
It does not take much to identify this type of question. They typically refer to a word that is already underlined in the text and ask what it means. After writing that the question is a vocabulary question, students should:
  1. Find the word in the selection.
  2. Write the sentence replacing the vocabulary word with a line.
  3. Re-read the sentence four times. Each time replacing the word with another response choice.
  4. Decide which substitution makes the most sense in the context of the story. Choose that one.

Special thanks to Jonathan Steinholf who wrote this sequence of lessons up. 

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