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A loooong while ago I posted about using PQA to teach kids to restate the question in their answers and to help their responses on constructed response questions.   After hearing from teachers from all over, I realized that 1) Many people don’t call restating the question PQA and 2) It’s a struggle for kids all over.

In my state, 3rd grade is the first year that kids participate in high stakes assessment.  A big portion of our English/Language Arts test is reading comprehension, especially open ended questions.  So, as a third grade teacher, I have always started the year, from Day 1, requiring my kids to use PQA to restate the question in their written responses.  It also helps the kids to answer the ACTUAL question that’s written.  You know, because sometimes they write something and you wonder where it came from.  Teaching kids in an intervention setting really strengthened my hold on teaching it right from the start and practicing the entire year as I’ve seen so many students struggle with this later on.

A few years ago, I decided to change up the way I introduced restating the question with the kids.  I thought it would help kids to see how it works by spending a bit of time focusing on using it in conversation before it was applied in writing.  My Kicking off a Great Year unit was an immediate hit in my classroom, and I’ve used it every year since whether I was teaching first, second, or third grade.

Kicking off a Great Year Restate the Question unit

I introduce it with the first set of question cards during our morning meeting at the beginning of the year.  We do a round of questions each morning.  The first set of cards includes both the question and the sentence starter to help students restate the question in the answer. It’s scaffolded to help guide students into understanding how to put the question in their answers.  This was especially helpful for first grade, and we spent every day for weeks using these cards.

Question cards to practice restating the question in the answer.

With first graders, I’d choose one card and everyone would answer that one card.  That way, students could hear a complete sentence response repeatedly.    With my second and third graders, though, I’d have them draw and answer questions on their own with the next sets of cards as the next sets remove the sentence starters.  When I taught third grade, I used the second set of cards in small groups, so the students practiced responding with the question and built a sense of community and knowledge of each other, all while practicing a skill we’d use all year long.

PQA with interviews

After we spent a few days getting to know each other and practicing answering questions in complete sentences, I split students up into partners to interview each other.  The students got to practice valuable skills they’d use all year long, while also truly getting to know a classmate.  In my unit, I provided blank interview sheets as well as interview sheets with questions to help you decide how independent you want your kids to be.  This helps transfer the skill over to writing.

 

In my experience I’ve had a lot of third graders who struggled to write in complete sentences, and who really struggled with this skill.  It always disappointed me because it’s fairly easy to teach in the primary grades, and as long as the expectation is there, the students will continue to do it.  Because I looped with my kids, my second graders just always expect to write in sentences with PQA- they don’t know that others don’t do that.

I wanted my unit to work for early elementary as well. so I changed up the lines to include writing lines to help young learners.  Some interview sheets are also provided for the very beginning of first grade, or the very end of kindergarten, where students only fill in the answer and then trace the rest.  This helps students learn how to structure a sentence in PQA while also working on sound spelling and building the skills they’ll truly start using later.

You can purchase my Kicking Off a Great Year unit by clicking the image below to head to TpT.

Kicking off a Great Year Restate the Question unit

An important aspect to consider when teaching students to restate the question is the hook that’s going to help them remember.  In my area, we use the acronym PQA.  It stands for Putting the Question in the Answer.  I’ve also seen TTQA (Turn The Question Around) which is basically the same thing.  I’ve recently come across RAPS (Restate, Answer, Prove, Sum it Up), and RACE (Restate, Answer, Cite, Edit) which I really like for older students.  Whichever acronym you prefer, I’ve created FREE posters to help you reference it in your classroom.  The PQA one is at the top of the post.  Just click here or on any of the images below to go download the set from my TpT store for free.

 

Once the school year is started, and we’ve practiced PQA together, I give students independent practice during the day and as homework.  Most often it’s tied to the specific standards and skills we’re working, but I also put in stand alone practice to help the kids get used to doing a passage and answering questions in one session.  This also helps give students a nice spiral throughout the year of a variety of text and question types.
For my third grade students, we start out the year using this set.
Constructed Response 2nd cover
The passages and questions all fit onto one page- to help keep it visually appealing for the kids.  I like it because it gives them practice on the skill without making them feel frustrated.
Restate the Question practice
There are 4 free pages in the Preview file.  This lets you get a feel for the set and try them out with your kids.  Just click here or on the images above to head to TpT and then click PREVIEW to download them.
I found over the years that one set was not enough practice.  We ended up finishing up the set early on in the year because I used them so often in the classroom and as homework.  So, I created a second set.  It follows the same format and is also aligned to the 2nd grade standards.  Even though they’re aligned to 2nd grade, they’re still great practice for third grade, especially if you’re focused on finding the text evidence and the structure of the written responses.  The shorter texts keep the focus on the question and answers themselves.
You can see the second set in my TpT store by clicking here or the image below.
Constructed Response 2nd Set 2 cover
 With the second set, I have enough different passages and questions to practice the entire year.
I also decided to make an easier set (which is why the previous one is now called Step 2).  This set is all half pages and have been perfect for the beginning of the year in 2nd grade, and the end of the year in 1st.  The texts are very simple so you’re really able to focus on the skill, even with the most struggling of students.  I have even used it with low third graders at the beginning of the year to help them practice the skill without struggling with the text.
The first grade set also has free pages that you are able to try out with your students.  To go to the preview to download them to try out, click here or the images below.
Constructed Response 1st

 

With my third graders (and it’s applicable for 4th & 5th too) we continue by applying our restating the question skills with much more complex texts.  That text complexity is crucial leading into our state testing.  We apply this skill using my African-American Heroes set during January and February.  The students learn about important people in our history but really work to answer constructed response and extended response question using textual evidence.  It’s also perfect for Black History Month since it’s just before state testing begins, as it gives students a look at heroes in American history.

African American Heroes Unit

You can try out this set with a Martin Luther King Jr. biography by clicking here or the picture above to head to the product on TpT and download the preview file.
How do you work on this skill with your students?
Ideas and resources for teaching students to restate the question in the answer: PQA; RACE; and TTQA