3 Steps and a Flag, VT and Questions

Context: Introducing a color question grid to encourage deeper questions

This is a routine I made up.  I was thinking about how I could introduce the question grid above, and my mind naturally moved to VT.   I wanted them to discover how it could be used on there own, and then share the different ways with each other.  I decided to have them start with the very basic, and then go up and get into more complex ideas.  This was a very good lesson, one that the children and I enjoyed very much, and one in which we learned a great deal about the different types of questions.

1. What do you see?  Describe how it looks.

This was a simple beginning, but it is still hard for my kids to describe things without interpreting.  The talked about how this is a grid, how it has different colors on it, and how the W5 and How are listed down one side.  Then, they started jumping ahead instead of looking carefully.  They missed important points like the type of words that were along the horizontal axis and where the colors change.  Still, they are getting much better at noticing and explaining what they see.  Still a bit of interpretation going on, but they are getting used to it.

2. What is it's purpose?  Write a sentence.

I gave the example of a ruler.  The kids immediatly said that a ruler is for measuring and making straight lines.  We put it together into a full sentence; the purpose of a ruler is to measure things and help you make lines.  Now, apply that same process to this grid.  They came up with some good ideas, after the negotiated meaning with their group members.  I tried to push them to consider the words they were using carefully.  I asked one group is making questions was the best phrase.  They discussed and settled on learning how to ask questions instead.  Words matter.
  • The purpose of this thing is for learning how to ask questions and how to make questions
  • The purpose of this is to organize ideas and to help make questions
  • The purpose is to help construct how to make make questions

3. How is it used?  Explain the process.

This is where they got into the details of the thing.  I steered the conversation towards the colors, and what the difference between these types of questions is.  They wrote words that helped them right on the paper and into the boxes.  Then, we shared our findings and they wrote all the other groups findings on theirs as well.  This lead to a great discussion on when to ask different types of questions.  I encouraged them in their groups to try and put this to use, and by asking each other questions from the book we are reading, The Tale of Despereaux.  

At the end of the day, after this routine had completed and we had packed up our backpacks, I read them a couple of chapters of A Tale of Despereaux (which is the 2nd GREATEST book to read aloud to a class, behind The End of the Beginning by Avi).  Somebody asked a question, and another student commented that that question was an orange question, so you would have to make an inference to answer it.  I hope they refer to this routinely, not only just during reading.  In the future, I need to introduce this type of chart much earlier in the year.  

4. Give it a name

I don't know what this is called except for color coded question grid.  I was hoping at this stage that somebody would come up with something funny and profound that everybody could agree with, and then the collective would decide that this thing had a new name!  But, it didn't happen.  They came up with some great ideas, but nobody really rose to the top.  

So, for the time being, it has no name.