The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for exisiting. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity. - Albert Einstein
Why Are Questions Important When Reading? Making questions when reading helps you guide what you are thinking. Questions can lead you to form a relationship with the author. Coming up with questions when you read helps you maintain your focus on what the author is trying to convey. Questioning as you go helps you anticipate what may happen next in the story or article.
Questions for Shakespeare Sonnet 2 When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field, Thy youth's proud livery so gazed on now, Will be a tattered weed of small worth held: Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies, Where all the treasure of thy lusty days; To say within thine own deep sunken eyes, Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise. How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use, If thou couldst answer 'This fair child of mine Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse' Proving his beauty by succession thine. This were to be new made when thou art old, And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold. Questions Why does Shakespeare sound so mean? I wonder why this woman relies on outer beauty. What is this “all-eating shame” about? “Lusty days.” I wonder if she is promiscuous. I wonder why Shakespeare sees the only way to redeem herself through childbirth. Who is this woman he writes about? Why isn’t inner beauty mentioned as a means to preserve one’s value?
Questions Don’t Have to be Answered When you ask questions as you read, many of your questions will be answered by the author. Many of your questions, however, will not be answered. In Shakespeare’s Sonnet, we still don’t know: –Who the woman is. –Why Shakespeare only values her ability to bear children. –If “all-eating shame” and “lusty days” means she has been promiscuous. The unanswered questions are important, however, because they make the text more personal to the reader and provide the reader with thoughts to contemplate long after having read the text.
There Are No Stupid Questions Some questions are simple: –Who is she? –Where did that happen? –When will he realize? –What is a black hole? –What does this word mean? Some questions add a complication: –How does that happen? –How do we know black holes exist? Some questions add thoughts to contemplate: –Why is she so blind to his motives? –Why do black holes exist? While each of these questions is asked at a different depth of understanding, none of these questions is “stupid.”
How Do Readers Begin to Form Their Own Questions? Begin with the 5 W’s: –Who? –What? –Where? –How? –Why? Focus on “why” questions for motive and “how” questions for many issues in non-fiction.
Childhood Wonder When children look around the world, they wonder about everything. –I wonder what makes the colors of a rainbow. –I wonder why I don’t see rabbits in my backyard in winter. These “I wonder” statements are used by good readers all the time. Wondering about the nuances of what you are reading keeps you involved with the text and in tune with the message of the author.
Language to Use with Questioning “I wonder…” “Why?” “What does this mean?” “That question makes me think of another question.” “How come…?” (Zimmermann and Hutchins, 2003, p. 84).
Practicing This Strategy The short story, “The Puzzle,” is continued on the next slide. Read this portion of the story carefully. You may also decide to review previous portions of the story to assure you recall the highlights of the characters and the plot.
“The Puzzle” by Anonymous “This box of yours is better worth looking at than I first supposed. Is it to be sold?” “No, it is not to be sold. Nor” – he “fixed” me with his spectacles – “is it to be given away. I have brought it to you for the simple purpose of ascertaining if you have ingenuity enough to open it.” “I will engage to open it in two seconds – with a hammer.” “I dare say. I will open it with a hammer. The thing is to open it without.” “Let me see.” I began, with the aid of a microscope, to examine the box more closely. “I will give you one piece of information, Pugh. Unless I am mistaken, the secret lies in one of these little pieces of inlaid wood. You push it, or you press it, or something, and the whole affair flies open.” “Such was my own first conviction. I am not so sure of it now. I have pressed every separate piece of wood; I have tried to move each piece in every direction. No result has followed. My theory was a hidden spring.” “But there must be a hidden spring of some sort, unless you are to open it by a mere exercise of force. I suppose the box is empty.” “I thought it was at first, but now I am not so sure of that either. It all depends on the position in which you hold it. Hold it in this position – like this – close to your ear. Have you a small hammer?” I took a small hammer. “Tap it softly, witch the hammer. Don’t you notice a sort of reverberation within?” Pugh was right, there certainly was something within; something which seemed to echo back my tapping, almost as if it were a living thing. I mentioned this, to Pugh. “But you don’t think that there is something alive inside the box? There can’t be. The box must be airtight, probably as much air-tight as an exhausted receiver.” “How doe we know that? How can we tell that no minute interstices have been for the express purpose of ventilation?” I continued tapping with the hammer. I noticed one peculiarity, that it was only when I held the box in a particular position, and tapped at a certain spot, there came the answering taps from within. “I tell you what it is, Pugh, what I hear is the reverberation of some machinery.”
What Questions Do You Have? Reread this portion of “The Puzzle” to yourself. Think about what kind of questions you have about parts of the story. Complete the double-entry journal page. Choose your own quotes from the story on which to question. Be prepared to discuss your connections with this part of the story in class.
Guiding Questions Do I have a question even before I start reading this book? How is asking questions working for me? Are there any questions following me through the book? Am I asking any questions that don’t make sense? What do these questions mean about my understanding? Which questions do I expect the author to answer? Does the author ask any questions? What do these questions say to the reader? To which questions do I find the answers in the text? (Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003, pp ).
“Questions send readers on quests. They cause readers to seek, pursue, and search for answers or deeper understanding. (Zimmermann and Hutchins, 2003, p. 80).
Resources Anonymous. “The Puzzle.” Einstein, Albert. Shakespeare, William. Zimmermann, Susan and Hutchins, Chryse. 7 Keys to Comprehension. NY: Three Rivers Press, 2003.