In Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note Stances, Signposts and Strategies (2016), Kylene Beers and Robert Probst remind readers of the importance of reading nonfiction with a questioning stance. They share three “Big Questions” that encourage this critical and attentive stance:
- “What surprised me?”
- This question develops the habit of reading with the mindset of searching for the new.
- “What did the author think I already knew?”
- This question develops the habit of identifying prior knowledge to acquire to clarify confusion.
- “What changed, challenged, or confirmed what I already knew?”
- This question develops the habit of modifying, sharpening or refining understanding.
Michelle O’Neil, instructional coach, and teachers at Mill Plain Elementary, have been engaging these questions in their professional book studies. As Michelle commented, “We have seen such traction with our students and their ability to navigate nonfiction text using these questions so we decided to try it ourselves!”
Keeping these questions in mind develops the habits of mind for closer, more attentive and meaningful reading for ALL readers.