Ok, let’s be real. As teachers, we have tons of pet peeves that drive us crazy throughout the day! One of the biggest on my list is having students answer comprehension questions in incomplete sentences! It’s so frustrating, especially when half of the words they need are right there in the question! So, with every problem comes a solution. I’ve got a great reading comprehension question and answer strategy to share that worked for me and I hope it helps for you too! It’s called TTQA: Turn the Question Around
Every year, it always baffled me that students couldn’t see that the words that they needed to form a strongly written answer to a reading comprehension question were right in front of their faces! Even when I modeled and explained, it didn’t seem to help. Students needed something to help them remember what to do when answering the questions to get them the best possible answer. Hence, TTQA was formed. Its brilliance is that it’s simple and to the point. Turn the question around, meaning, using the words in the question at the beginning of your answer to begin writing. There are so many reasons why I love this strategy!
Example of the comprehension question strategy:
Here’s a quick example of the strategy in use:
Why did Martha take the dog for a walk?
Answer: Martha took the dog for a walk because the dog kept barking and needed to go outside.
Benefits of the comprehension question strategy:
For starters, my struggling students now had a leg to stand on. Even if they didn’t know the answer, they could begin writing. They had something to start with to get their minds going and thinking. And the words that they were using from the question that they were writing in their answer they then knew to go and find in the story as clue words. So this writing strategy that was designed to help fix a grammar issue also helped fix a comprehension issue with many students!
The strategy itself is very concrete. There are no trills or steps. It’s simply a reminder of what to do. I get my students into the habit of writing the letters TTQA on the corner of their papers anytime they see questions and lines that they know they will be writing answers on. That habit is everything!
Another bonus to this strategy is when those pesky two part questions arise. How many times have I reminded them to look for all parts of the question to answer, right? I know you’ve been there too. But this strategy helps with that! Since they are using the words from the question, it indirectly is forcing them to answer both parts of the question! That’s a win win in my book. Are you loving this comprehension question strategy!?
Oh, and it doesn’t matter if you use another writing acronym like RACE or SLAMS to help students write strong answers, because TTQA will work with those too! TTQA is more about the grammatical side of things and the RACE strategy helps more with the complete answer.
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Tips on using the strategy:
#1 – get them in the habit of writing TTQA next to their questions or somewhere on their page. Maybe even next to their name!
#2 – Model the strategy like crazy! Yes, I know you’ve probably been modeling what you want your students to do before this, but using the TTQA strategy with the letters, steps, etc. and modeling this specially as much as possible will help!
#3 – Have students cross out the question words at the beginning of the question and then underline the important words that they will use in the question and put into their answer
I hope you are loving this comprehension question strategy as much as I am! Let me know if you have any questions about it OR if you have another awesome strategy that works too! I’d love to hear!
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