Lesson plan

Questions that Gauge Comprehension

Use this lesson to gauge your students’ basic comprehension of fiction text. If they can answer who, what, when, where, why, and how questions, you know they have a handle on it and it’s time to get into more critical thinking!
Need extra help for EL students? Try theAnswering "Why" QuestionsPre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try theAnswering "Why" QuestionsPre-lesson.

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

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(3 minutes)
Reading Comprehension: The Runaway BallReading Comprehension:  Pinocchio
  • Draw a blank concept web on the board with the word QuestionsIn the centre.
  • Ask students to brainstorm the type of questions we ask each other or that we are asked in class. Clarify that you are looking for the first word of the question, or the question starter.
  • Record the question stems in the outer circles of the concept web (who, what, when, where, why, how).
  • Read the learning objective and have students repeat it aloud. Explain that today’s lesson will be a review of some of the most basic, but important, comprehension questions that we are asked as readers. These serve as a foundation for being able to answer the deeper, more challenging questions about a text.
(20 minutes)
  • Display a pre-made anchor chart that highlights each of the 5W + H questions and the information gained when the question is asked. For example:
    • Who: People or animals
    • What: More information or details
    • When: Time
    • Where: A place
    • Why: A reason something happened
    • How: More information that explains a process
  • Provide examples of each type of question as it is used in daily life. (e.g., Who did you sit with on the bus? What did you eat for breakfast? When will you study for the test? Where is your violin lesson? Why were you late? How did you finish that work so quickly?)
  • Point out the six pieces of chart paper around the room that are labeled with 5W + H questions about the story. Explain to the class that they will listen to a read aloud of a picture book and answer the 5W + H questions.
  • Read aloud a fiction text, such as Thank You, Mr. Falker By Patricia Polacco and stop to think aloud throughout the story about the details that answer each of the 5W + H questions. (For example, "I see that Trisha received help from her teacher. I’m thinking about the teacher as an important character. The teacher is a person, and he could be the answer to a question that starts with Who. For example, I could ask, Who was the teacher that helped Trisha?I know the answer is Mr. Falker because he was the teacher who spent extra time working with Trisha.")
  • Model answering one question by writing it on a sticky note and placing it on the piece of chart paper.
(15 minutes)
  • Divide the class into small groups and give each group five sticky notes. Have them work to answer the remaining questions listed on the anchor charts by putting their answers on the sticky notes and placing them on the corresponding anchor chart. (Note: If possible, give each group a different colour sticky note for ease of assessing each group’s answers quickly.)
  • Facilitate a class discussion about the answers to each of the questions. Have students specify where in the text they learned the answer. Invite them to the document camera to point out the location in the book.
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute a copy of the Reading Comprehension: The Runaway Ball worksheet and have students read and complete it independently.


  • Provide a simplified text and question set for struggling learners.
  • Have students read aloud the story on the independent practise worksheet.
  • Allow students to utilize different colour writing utensils to colour code the questions and answers on the independent practise worksheet.


  • Give students a more advanced text with chapters. Ask them to answer the 5W + H questions in complete sentences and use evidence-based terms (e.g., “According to the text…) as they cite text evidence to support their answers.
  • Allow students to use an online dictionary, such as wordsmyth.com or learnersdictionary.com to look up any unfamiliar words in the texts.
  • Give students an opportunity to listen to an audio version of a story as they answer 5W + H questions about the story.
(10 minutes)
  • Put a copy of the Reading Comprehension: Pinnochio worksheet on the document camera and give each student an index card. Read aloud the text.
  • Display the following questions and instruct students to choose one question to answer.
    • Who are the characters?
    • What did Gepetto name his puppet?
    • When did Gepetto start making Pinocchio?
    • Where did Pinocchio go when he got to the open door?
    • Why did Gepetto keep cutting Pinocchio’s nose?
    • How did Pinocchio learn to walk?
(2 minutes)
  • Go over the answers to each of the 5W + H questions, and ask individuals to share the text evidence they found to support the answer. Record student answers by marking evidence on the displayed copy of the text.
  • Poll the rest of the class to gauge whether they agree or disagree with the student’s answer. Allow for class discussion if necessary.

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