Question Strategy

What is it?

The Question Strategy is a way of forming questions as you read in order to deepen your understanding and enjoyment of the text. Questions can be about clarifying the meaning of a phrase or passage, exploring important themes, considering the author's technique, or learning more about something you find interesting. The second part of the Question Strategy is finding an answer, either on your own or with the help of a teacher or friend.

Why should I do it?

When you are unclear about something—in any aspect of your life—asking a question is the first step toward understanding. If you stop periodically and ask questions as you read, you'll find you understand the text more fully, and you're likely to have some fun in the process. Since you create your own questions, you can focus on any aspect of the text that feels important and interesting to you.

How do I do it?

While you read, stay on the lookout for anything that confuses or intrigues you. When you find something, stop and form a question that would help you figure out what you need or want to know. You might find it helpful to think about the kinds of questions you've heard teachers ask. Next, try searching for an answer in the text and images, looking up related information online, or discussing your question with a teacher or friend. You might find an answer right then, or you might decide to make a note of your question and save it for later. Some questions are best answered after you've read further.

Forming a useful question can sometimes be difficult, but with practice, you'll learn the types of questions that help and interest you most.

Self Check

Good questions:


Read the opening paragraph of Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Tell-Tale Heart":

"TRUE! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story."

Ask a question that will help you begin to understand the narrator's point of view.

My question: Why does the narrator repeatedly insist that he is not crazy?

My answer: Maybe people have said the narrator is insane because of the way he has acted. I'm going to read on to find out what the narrator has done so I can decide for myself whether I think he is sane.

Questioning Tip: Go for the challenge!

Rather than forming questions that are easy for you to answer, try to ask yourself questions that challenge you. Often the difficult questions are the ones that really expand your thinking. Finding an answer might take some time and effort—you might need to do research online, talk with friends and teachers, or read further in the text and think carefully about any clues you notice. Enjoy the challenge; this is where your best learning happens!