Questioning Exploring and Writing in the Middle School


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Participants—district instructional leaders, principals, and teachers—will understand how to use key questioning strategies, exploration of ideas and writing instructions to support the National Core Standards for all middle school students.

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Questioning Exploring and Writing in the Middle School

  1. 1. Questioning Exploring Writingin the Middle School
  2. 2. Introduction Welcome!Are you looking for something that is not just a middle school language arts program? Great Books Roundtable is for you!
  3. 3. Program OverviewGreat Books Roundtable preserves the featuresthat have made Great Books programs uniqueand exciting for more than forty years—a focus on the Shared Inquiry™ method of learning supported by high-quality literature.
  4. 4. Sample Unit – ―Wolf‖We are going to use―Wolf‖, with the videothat depicts a middleschool classroomworking on pre-discussion activities,discussing theselection, andcompleting post-discussion activitiesincluding writing.
  5. 5. Questioning, Exploring and Writing in the Middle School• PREREADING QUESTIONS• Please tell us who you are and what interests you in Questioning, Exploring and Writing in the Middle School?1. ______________________________2. ______________________________3. ______________________________4. ______________________________
  6. 6. SkillsRoundtable provides a superbframework for teaching the skills of•Reading Comprehension•Critical Thinking•Speaking•Vocabulary•Writing
  7. 7. The Teacher’s Role• As a Shared Inquiry leader, you do not impart information or present your own opinions, but guide participants in reaching their own interpretations.• You do this by asking thought-provoking questions and by being an active listener.
  8. 8. Questioning• TEACHERS -The key to a great discussion is learning how to ask questions• STUDENTS – It is more important to question answers than to answer questions
  9. 9. 4 Types of Questions• Factual• Interpretive• Evaluative• Speculative
  10. 10. QuestioningThe SI Method distinguishes four levels of questions• Factual – Only one correct answer based on evidence from the text• Interpretive – More than one answer that can be reasonably supported by evidence for the text• Evaluative – Ask you to decide if you agree with the authors point of view in light of your own experience• Speculative – Requires you to make a judgment based on information from outside the text
  11. 11. Types of QuestionsOne answer Factual Needs text evidenceTwo or more Interpretive Needs textanswers evidenceTwo or more Evaluative Needs text +answers personal knowledgeTwo or more Speculative Leads one toanswers make a Judgment
  12. 12. QuestioningWhat types of questions are these for the story “Wolf”?1. What kind of dog is Wolf?2. What are some animal instincts you recognize in your pet?3. What influences you more genetics or upbringing?4. Where in the story does Eisley act similar to Wolf? Different from Wolf?5. According to the author, what kind of power does the remote past have?6. Why does Eisley tell Wolf that there is something in us that we both had better try to forget?7. _______________________________________________?8. _______________________________________________?1-F 2-S 3-E 4-I 5-I 6-I 7-__8-__
  13. 13. What makes a good interpretive question?• Genuine doubt about the answer(s)• Care about the question• Discussible• Clear• Specific to the selection
  14. 14. Why Interpretive Questions?• Allows for different opinions to be accepted or rejected without judgments• Builds critical thinking skills by leading students to  develop ideas  offer evidence from the text  respond to the opinions of others• Allows for a student centered discussion sharing ideas from quality literature addressing great ideas and issues effecting middle schoolers
  15. 15. Interpretive QuestionsWhat makes an effective interpretive question? • Doubt • Interest • Evidence • Clarity • Specificity
  16. 16. Interpretive Questions Need…Doubt(yes, no different answers) – Are there timeswhen the power of the distant past confrontsour present circumstances?InterestWhy does Eisley tell Wolf that ―there issomething in us that we had both better try toforget‖?EvidenceAt the end of the story, why does Easley callthe bison fossil ―our bone‖?
  17. 17. Interpretive Questions NeedClearIs Easley saying that people as well asanimals are what we and ―and can notbe otherwise because of the shadows?SpecificWhy does Easley tell us that ―even to methe shadows had whispered – to me,the scholar in his study‖?
  18. 18. Sequence of Questions• OPENING QUESTION (1 question) • Introduces and explores ideas, topics, and themes• FOCUS QUESTION (1 question) • Examines a central point of the text •• CLUSTER QUESTIONS • Establishes relevance revolving around the focus question • Interprets a passage, explore a quotations, etc.• FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS (asked of students to probe and clarify)• ―Are you saying that...‖• ―Where in the text did you find support for that?‖• ―What do you mean by...‖• ―Tell us more about...‖• ―Do you agree with Sally when she says……‖
  19. 19. Great Books Shared InquiryAn active and collaborative search for answers to questions of meaning presented by a text
  20. 20. Leader’s Steps in Preparing a Selection1. Read twice and take notes2. Turn notes & reactions into questions3. Test for answers and evidence4. Revise your questions, if needed5. Select questions for SI Discussion
  21. 21. Step 1: Read the text and take notesMark anything that you:• find puzzling (?)• think is important (*)• feel strongly about (!)
  22. 22. Step 2:Turn Your Notes into Questions• Character motivation• Unusual language• Important details• Ambiguous words/phrases• Making connections
  23. 23. Step 3: Test for Interpretive Questions• How many answers do I come up with? (two or more)• Where do I find evidence to support these answers? (back to the text)
  24. 24. Step 4: Revise Your QuestionsWhat makes an effective interpretive question? • Doubt • Interest • Evidence • Clarity • Specificity
  25. 25. Step 5: Select Questions for Shared Inquiry Discussion• Group questions that deal with the same problem of meaning• Choose a focus question• Form a cluster of related interpretive questions
  26. 26. Teacher’s Preparation • STUDY THE STORY • FORMULATE QUESTONS • REVIEW RULES • USE A SEATING CHART Focus Question: ______________________ Answer: _____________________________ What do you mean by______? What do you think of ___’s_idea? AGREE DISAGREE QUESTIONS NEW IDEASHave you heard an idea you disagree with? Where do you find that in the text?
  27. 27. Discussion of Wolf
  28. 28. Writing• Writing is thinking on paper. Knowing what you think and how to back it up is the first step• SI Discussion prepares students to explore ideas and conclude an evidenced point of view• Writing then becomes how to construct that on paper.• Roundtable included a full featured writing component on CD ROM
  29. 29. Roundtable Features• High-quality literature• In-depth reading, critical thinking, and writing activities• Teaching and learning in stages• Differentiated instruction• Common Core and 21 Century Alignments• Assessment options• Standards-and research-based learning• Renowned professional development
  30. 30. BenefitsFor Teachers . . .• Paradigm shift in the way you teach• Integration of 21st century skills in your class• Integration of the reading and writing processes• Meeting of Common Core and state standards• Assessment of students in order to meet AYP• Flexibility to differentiate
  31. 31. BenefitsFor Students . . .• Improves reading comprehension, critical thinking, speaking and writing skills• Growth as independent learners and thinkers• Participation in a collaborative classroom• Development of cognitive, emotional and social intelligences• Opportunity to learn and practice 21st century skills
  32. 32. MaterialsRoundtable leader Materials include:•Leaders Edition•Audio CDs•CD-ROM•Activity Instruction Cards•Roundtable Road Map•Posters and Bookmarks(The materials also include a student anthology)
  33. 33. For More InformationFor more information contactMarg MortimerMarg.Mortimer@greatbooks.org800-222-5870 x7123or visit our web site at