Building Critical Thinking Skills with Questions

Want to get your kids thinking more about what they are reading and processing that text at deeper levels? Then a technique called Facts, Questions and Responses created by Harvey and Goudvis (2000) might be just the strategy you need. Kids of all ages can use this technique to think about and process the text they are reading. Students begin by reading a selected nonfiction text and then generating the facts they have identified in their reading. They write these facts on a 3-column chart with the headings “facts” “questions” and “responses” as labels for the columns. After writing down the facts learned, ask students to list some questions that they have about this fact or things that they wonder about. These questions are listed in the center column. In the third column, students write about their responses or reactions to the facts that they have learned. This strategy can not only help students think about what is important in a selection, but it can also help them process the information and think about related questions that they might still have about the information in the text. While older students can process this information on their own or with partners, younger children can also use this strategy when guided by the teacher as a whole class activity.

Visualizing Text to Deepen Comprehension and Retention

Helping students visualize what they are reading helps deepen comprehension and also helps students retain information longer.

Ask students to read a specific section of text collaboratively. When they have completed the text, ask them to discuss the material and to then create a picture, diagram or mind map to show what they have learned from the text.

Students then present and explain their visual images to the class to help them clarify their own thoughts and connections.

When students create a visual image that connects to the text they have read, not only is there deeper understanding of the material, but they have also stored the information in two places in the brain, thus, deepening retention.