For years, we’ve been teaching children to ask questions as they read, or in this case encounter, things they don’t understand. We’ve learned, however, that merely asking questions is not enough. If readers, thinkers, consumers don’t seek answers to their questions, how do they arrive at deeper understandings about the things that perplex them? Reading closely can help us develop the habit of seeking answers to our questions.
In our conversation with these students, we suggested they replay the video and take note of the things that they might not have noticed before. When they watched the commercial again, they noted:
- There were three speedboats.
- The boats have names.
- One is named Santa Maria.
- Another is named Pinta.
At this point a ripple of “Ohhh!” and “I get it!” spread across the classroom as students began to understand the “text.” Without even seeing the name of the third boat, they knew it was Nina because these speedboats represented the ships on which Christopher Columbus sailed.
These students had not yet answered their original question, however, which asked why these men in period garb were on speedboats in the first place. So, before concluding the lesson, we asked the students to return to their question. They easily inferred the answer, “He’s going a lot faster than he would have when he sailed to America in 1492. It’s funny!”
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post when we will look at this lesson through the lens of the Common Core and discuss how a lesson such as this aligns with the standards.