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Need help writing reading guide type questions for The Help that I could assign to...

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mihlefeld | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 14, 2013 at 6:10 PM via web

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Need help writing reading guide type questions for The Help that I could assign to students.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM (Answer #1)

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Though I cannot provide specific chapter-by-chapter questions within the confines of this answer, I will try to give you some helpful advice to get started. Typically, the purpose of "reading guide" questions is to keep students on track with reading and comprehension, and also to informally assess that they are completing the reading on time. I very often use information from these questions for quizzes if I suspect my students are not keeping up with the reading.

Here is one approach I follow when teaching a book for the first time:

  • Set a goal for how many questions you will write for each chapter. Try to keep within a range.
  • Read each chapter and create simple plot questionsas you read. If you cannot do this for the entire book before teaching it, try to stay about three chapters ahead of your students at all times.
  • Base questions off of major events, characters, changes, conflicts, and details that will be important throughout the story.

When using this approach, I always focus on details about the setting in the earlier chapters. For example:

  • Where and when does the story take place?
  • Who are the main characters introduced so far and what do we know about each?

Another way to write a reading guide is to actually have the students read a chapter and write their own questions and answers as they read. I usually write guidelines for what kinds of questions they can ask and how many they need, and then I use the student-generated questions in class for small group discussion, review, and as a launch point for asking questions about things students may have found confusing in the reading.

A final approach I've used in writing a reading guide is to choose two or three main ideas that I will focus on for the duration of a novel. These ideas are things relating to the major literary elements like theme, characterization, symbolism, imagery, etc. I will read the novel with my big ideas in mind, and when I come to examples in the story that fit one focus, I will create a question about it.

Of course, the more often you teach a novel, the more you can edit and re-write your reading guide, as you will begin to learn the things that students find easy and find challenging.

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted April 16, 2013 at 3:01 AM (Answer #2)

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The above answer gives you many approaches you can use to create your guide for The Help.  You don't give an age for the students for whom you are writing questions. Because I normally teach with students in small groups, and teaching a novel uses the skills students have been working on such as major literary elements, I ask the students to create only four questions per chapter focusing on discussion questions. Each person in the group is responsible for one question and answer written in their notebook for this novel per chapter.  Then I have the group choose the best discussion question in their small group, I choose the presenter by some means as birthday closest to Labor Day, and the student presents it to the next table. Each table of four is responsible for one question but reduce it to one question per two tables.  The questions are surprising, often get to the heart of the story or the why of something, and it is very clear who is not participating.  Sometimes, I have them write their question on a 6X8 card, all of them stand up, and trade cards if they get the answer right.  Then we return to our original tables, answer any questions misunderstood, and continue with the novel.  I just find that discussion questions elicit the plot and character questions etc. and the students discuss what the major ideas are.  Granted, we must also take a day to write plot questions or draw plot diagrams, but I always wanted more from each student and made each responsible for writing a thoughtful, provoking question, each in their own color ink to distinguish which student wrote which question at the table. I also ask them to write their question in different ways such as compound or complex sentences for simple practice. Hopefully, you can use all the ideas in the first answer and incorporate some of what I used to help you teach your students what you want them to know or assess what they are learning as they read.

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