Asking Questions

Nov 4, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy:

Adding details; organization


Some young writers have difficulty clearly conveying their message on paper. They know what they want to write about but struggle to capture their thoughts on paper in a way that is clear to the reader. This mini-lesson helps students see the need to clarify their information and include enough details for the reader. Model this technique by writing a “story” on the overhead or chart paper:

My brother has a dog.

Ask students what they think of your story. Most will say that you need to write more. Ask students what they want to know about your dog. They will ask questions such as, “What is its name? Where did you get it? What does it look like?” Write a second draft of your story, including answers to their questions. Help students to see that a writer needs to include enough details for the reader.

My brother has a dog. Her name is Sammi. She has golden brown fur with black on her tail and her paws. She was a stray dog.

Extend this technique by having students read a draft of one of their stories to the class. Invite classmates to ask the writer questions that will help clarify the message. After sufficient modeling, this technique can also be used with writing partners.

After sufficient modeling, I encourage my students to begin asking the questions of themselves as they write. “What would my reader want to know about my story?”  With my developing and fluent writers, I expand the “asking questions” strategy by teaching them how to use planning sheets.