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Quinoa: an Easy Way to Introduce Your Students to Asking Questions

One reading skill that I think it often missed is teaching students to ask questions. I think that our students are fully capable of developing questions, regardless of their reading level or learning abilities. It is something that ALL of our kids are able to do on some level.

Several years ago, I read the book Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor. She has several ideas to introduce various reading skills, and I highly recommend it. This was one of many ideas she shares in her book.

Before Reading

Show your students the bag or box of Quinoa. Ask them to develop as many questions as possible on their graphic organizer. Each time I have completed this lesson, NONE of my students have ever had or heard of Quinoa. Questions in this section might include things like: 
  • Is this healthy?
  • Will I like the taste of it?
  • Where did she buy this?
  • Does it take like rice or pasta?
  • Is it easy to make?
  • Is it hard to make?
This step is representative of what we as readers do before we read a book. We are wondering if we will enjoy it. We might be wondering if it is similar to something we have already read. We also might be questioning whether the text will be too easy or too hard. There are no right or wrong questions. 

During Reading

After you have given your students a few minutes to complete the "Before Reading" section of their graphic organizer, you are ready to begin making your Quinoa. You make this in a very similar fashion to rice. I actually brought my little rice cooker from home to use. While it is cooking, students can record their questions in the "During Reading' section. Questions in this section might include things like: 
  • Do we need to stir it?
  • How much water should we use?
  • Do I need to set a timer?
  • What happens if we put too much water?
This portion of the activity is just like reading a text or passage. While we are making our quinoa we might be asking ourselves clarifying questions. The first three questions above are all things that we can find the answer to by going back to the recipe on the bag. Remind students that questions cannot always be answered within the text. Some questions require research outside of the text, such as what happens if we put too much water. We may have to experiment or look at another source other than the recipe. 

After Reading

After we have finished making our quinoa, my students are ready to TRY the quinoa. I never make my students try food that we prepare. It is always their choice. Whether they are trying it or not, they can still record questions in the "After Reading" section of their graphic organizer, such as: 
  • Would I ever eat this again?
  • What would go well with quinoa?
  • Is this healthy or unhealthy?
  • What is this made out of?
I feel that the questions in this section are often similar to the first section. What questions are still remaining after finishing quinoa, a chapter book, a short reading passage, or a picture book? It doesn't matter what you are reading, you might have questions that are still with you after you finish reading. Would you read this book again? Would you read another book by this author? How did you feel about the main character? Are there BIG questions that the author left unanswered? 

Would you like the graphic organizer and anchor charts that I use when completing this activity? You can download them by clicking on the image above. 

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