August 15, 2018
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By Caitlin Hardeman

EL Support Lesson

Answering "Why" Questions

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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Questions that Gauge ComprehensionLesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Questions that Gauge ComprehensionLesson plan.
Academic

Students will be able to answer 5W + H questions about fictional texts.

Language

Students will be able to describe cause and effect relationships with specific vocabulary using sentence frames.

(2 minutes)
  • Write the word WhyOn the board and ask students to discuss what that word means. Challenge them to come up with a definition and explain when it is appropriate to use that word.
  • Provide the definition of the word Why:For what reason, purpose, or cause. Share that this word is used as a sentence starter when a question is asked.
  • Tell the class that today, they will learn how to answer WhyQuestions using specific words as they explain themselves.
(8 minutes)
  • Introduce the tiered words and point out that all of these words are related. These are specific vocabulary words that we use when answering questions that begin with the word Why. Explain that this type of question asks us to find the CauseOr ReasonThat triggers, or starts, an event.
  • Display the Vocabulary Card for each word. Read aloud the word and have the students repeat it to practise pronunciation. Do the same for the definitions. Then, offer an example sentence using each of the words. For example. "There is a puddle in the street BecauseIt rained last night."
  • Put students into partnerships and challenge them to use each word in an original sentence. Circulate and provide feedback as needed.
  • Review each vocabulary word again, calling on nonvolunteers to share an example sentence they created while working in partnerships.
(8 minutes)
  • Explain that there are certain sentence structures that we use when explaining an answer to a question that begins with Why.
  • Display the sentence frames:
    • ____Because ____.
    • One reason ____Is ___.
    • ___Is/was the cause of ____.
  • Model completing each of the sentence frames based on the following example question, "Why did the boy fall?"
    • The boy fell because the floor was slippery.
    • One reason the boy fell is that the floor was slippery.
    • A slippery floor was the cause of the boy falling.
  • Instruct students to get with their partner again, and have them orally complete the sentence frames as they answer a question that starts with Why. Note: Create a question that all students know an answer for. For example, "Why did we have a fire drill? Why was the teacher absent? Why did we have inside recess?"
  • Call on students to share their answers and record the completed sentence frame on the board. Point out that in different sentence frames, the cause is in a different place.
(12 minutes)
  • Distribute copies of only the passage from the Reading for Comprehension: Cause and Effect worksheet. Tell students that they will be reading the passage and answering questions that start with Why. They will answer them orally using the sentence frames, and they should underline or highlight information in the text that helps them create their answer.
  • Display the sentence frames:
    • ____Because ____.
    • One reason ____Is ___.
    • ___Is/was the cause of ____.
  • Read aloud the passage to students, and go over any unfamiliar words, as needed. Post the following questions and tell students they can choose from any of the sentence frames as they orally answer with a partner.
    • Why didn’t the main character think she needed new school supplies?
    • Why did she change her mind?
    • Why was there a dark spot on her backpack?
    • Why couldn't the markers be used?
  • Go over the answers together by calling on students to share their completed sentence frames. Aim to hear a variety of sentence frames shared by students.

BEGINNING

  • Allow access to reference materials in home language (L1).
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary to the teacher.
  • Pre-teach vocabulary from the passage on the Reading for Comprehension: Cause and Effect worksheet by providing written and visual definitions.

ADVANCED

  • Allow learners to utilize glossaries and dictionaries for unfamiliar words.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions.
  • Challenge learners to come up with their own sentence frame for answering questions that begin with Why.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary, summarizing important information for the class.
(7 minutes)
  • Give each student an index card to serve as an Exit Ticket. Tell students that they will answer a question using a sentence frame of their choice.
  • Display the sentence frames:
    • ____Because ____.
    • One reason ____Is ___.
    • ___Is/was the cause of ____.
  • Ask a question that does not require a reading passage. For example, "Why do we have to raise our hands in class before speaking? Why do we have to wear our shoes at school?" Give them time to complete their sentence frame.
  • Have students share their answers in small groups. Then, call on students to share with the whole group.
(3 minutes)
  • Ask students to come up with a body movement that helps them remember some of the key words (because, reason, cause) they use when answering a question that starts with Why.
  • Remind learners that this type of question is common because it makes them think more deeply about a text. Tell them that it is always good practise to go back into the text to find clues to help answer the question.

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