Question & Answer Books
A Step Toward Non-Fiction in a New Format
This unit was created by Jodie Black, who uses it during February with her kindergartners.
The series “Units of Study for Primary Writing: A Yearlong Curriculum” by Lucy Calkins was an inspiration for much of my work. By reading this series and making some important, heavy modifications for kindergarten, my students were able to do some fabulous writing. I very much recommend Calkins’ Units of Study; using my ideas in conjunction with hers has brought writers workshop in reach of my kindergartners.
Welcome to the sixth on-line unit for my Kindergarten Writers Workshop.
During the previous unit, on All About Posters, when Katelyn wrote that she loved Labradors and it wasn’t a fact, she cleverly added, “Do you like Labradors, yes or no?” This little idea spread like wildfire through our posters and eventually led to this sixth unit.
The reason the questions got such a strong following was that during Author’s Chair, students actually asked the questions of the audience and got immediate feedback. Author’s Chair took on a wonderful presentational aspect. I created a new organizational tool for these books and it went right into the Paper Buffet. (Click here for my Question and Answer organizers)
By this time of the year, the children now had many ways to choose to write.
Unit Six. These four lessons are intended to be taught in February, after you have completed the first five units Jodie has posted; however, we know (and welcome) other teachers' adaptations of Jodie's ideas in any order that works for them.
- Lesson 1:
Share some non-fiction books set up in the question and answer format to model not only the writing of questions and answers, but to aid the children in illustrating in an effective manner. The illustration shouldn’t give away the answer on the question page. The “Look Once, Look Again Science Series” is an especially good example of this format.
- Lesson 2:
If children are experiencing any trouble defining topics for these books, brainstorm some ideas as a class. This might need to be done even when they aren’t having trouble if time is passing between the time you introduce this genre and the time the children finish previous projects and determine to start one of these.
- Lesson 3:
Take the time to model for the children how to use the new organizers correctly. Make your own question and answer book as the children listen to you think aloud. You might need to do this for more than one day depending on your population.
- Lesson 4:
Question and Answer books provide the opportunity to review or reteach (or teach!) capitals, periods and question marks. As with the All About Posters helping to focus on the idea of a complete thought, the Question and Answer books effectively illuminate the idea of a question. If the audience, which you are going to present in front of at Author’s Chair, doesn’t feel like answering, you’ve probably not asked a question.