Thursday, April 28, 2011



An activity presented via email from Richard Pressinger

One of my favorite reading activities that is very effective in strengthening reading comprehension is sometimes called "Quest/Request and you can do it with one other individual or paired individuals or in a round robin with a small group. Here is how it works.

Everyone reads a short paragraph silently. Then one person starts by asking a question about something that was in the passage. Others try to answer it, looking back in the passage to find the answer if necessary. Then the next person asks a question, and the next and the next and so on, until no one can think of any more questions to ask.

You can get into different kinds of questions such as those of a graphophonic nature (e.g. How many sentences? How many five letter words? How many words that end in "tion?") or questions about the meaning of the passage, or you could highlight explicit questions or implicit questions.

The goal is to ask as many questions as possible. It is less important that the questions be answered than it is to simply ask them. It should not be a competition between students, but a group might wish to compete against its old record by increasing the number of questions it is able to ask about a passage. I've done it with my adult students and have filled a page writing down the questions we asked about a simple 100 word paragraph. Once we had asked more questions than there were words in the paragraph.

There are many things at work here. One is it encourages an active, rather than a passive reading style. Another is it gets students to reread the same text many times, thereby developing fluency. Another benefit, I feel, is it forces the reader to rework the meaning of the passage into new forms, statements into questions, for example. This seems to have a powerful effect on one's ability to remember the content and comprehend the meaning of a passage.

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