Getting kids to restate the question in the answer is a skill that most teachers expect from their students. It helps to make sure students are writing in complete sentences. It helps students answer the specific question that is asked, as well. In my class, I use the acronym PQA (Put the Question in the Answer). 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. Some teachers use TTQA for Turn The Question Around. Others focus on things such as RACE or RAPS, but I save that work for later- after students have a solid foundation of restating the question in their responses. These ideas are how I work on restating the question all year long!
What Does Restate the Question Mean?
Restating the question is just as it sounds- stating the question again. That statement removes the “question word” and sometimes additional, but less important words in the question.
Why teach restating the question?
When students restate the question in their answer, it helps give them a sentence stem to begin their responses. It is often the initial component with a compound or complex sentence. It gives context for the students’ answer. For young students, it also helps ensure they’re writing in complete sentences. Some people view it as unnecessary as it’s something that feels too much like “test prep” because it’s not how we speak naturally. However, I think if we’re not expecting students to respond to oral, academic questions in complete sentences, we’re missing out on valuable opportunities to build their writing skills. If students can’t respond in a complete sentence, they can’t write in a complete sentence. Expecting restated questions, both in classroom dialogue and in writing, helps build the foundations for using non-simple sentences in writing.
Restate the Question Acronyms
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 responses. It is a great skill to instill in first and second grades, and can be reinforced and built upon in second and third grades as students work to paragraph responses with text evidence. Do you ever have kids that write a response and you wonder where they are coming from? Or their response doesn’t connect to the question? Restating the question is a great strategy to help that!
Whether you use PQA or TTQA as an acronym to help your students remember to restate the question, I have a poster available for you. I’ve also included those common acronyms for writing paragraph constructed responses. You can download my Restate the Question Acronym Strategy Posters for free.
Restating the Question Orally
Several years ago, I decided to change up the way I introduced restating the question with my 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.
I first introduce restating the question during our morning meeting during the first couple days of the school year. I use the question cards including in Kicking off a Great Year. They’re designed for us to get to know each other through questions, while also practicing restating the question in the answer. We do a round of questions each morning during morning meeting. In the beginning, everyone answers the same question so students can continue to hear the sentence stem. After a couple days, students draw a new question to read and answer.
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.
Some question sets include the response scaffold while others don’t, so we shift to using the ones without depending on student readiness. With third grade, I also use the second set of cards in small groups, so the students practice responding with the question and built a sense of community and knowledge of each other, all while practicing a skill we use all year long. I have found that through this daily practice and expectation of complete sentences, my students do a great job restating the question in their oral responses during class conversations. It really helps me make clear my expectation of responding in complete sentences and it’s a low-stress way to practice right from the start!
We will continue to practice restating the question during our daily morning meeting all year long. Students cannot write what they cannot say orally. Practicing in easy ways through oral language gives students the opportunity to hear from peer models, and practice orally in quick ways. We already do morning meeting so it’s not incorporating something new- just an intentional time during our existing practice. You may be interested in my Building Oral Language through Morning Meeting routine to hear more about why this time is so valuable.
For young students, this daily practice is so valuable! My Question of the Day unit was designed with 1st and 2nd grade students in mind! It’s designed to be done during your daily morning meeting routine, giving students the opportunity to practice restating the question while answering questions about themselves. It intentionally builds from simple questions to questions requiring multi-part responses with conjunctions.
At the beginning of the year, scaffolds are included for student responses when a new question type is included. Once students are comfortable, that scaffold is removed. You can take a closer look at my Question of the Day unit by clicking the link to head to that listing on TpT.
Restating the Question in Written Responses
Another component to the Kicking Off a Great Year unit is the student interview piece. Students are partnered up to ask questions of each other and practice responding, and writing, in complete sentences while restating the question. The students get to practice valuable skills they’ll use all year long, while also truly getting to know a classmate. Because the interviews are done orally, this gives students the opportunity to practice writing in complete sentences while restating the question, without a text. It’s a great segue between both skills.
The interview pages include a variety of lines and scaffolds so you can choose the right fit for your students. As we’re working to get to know one another, this is a great activity!
Some interview sheets are also provided for the very beginning of first grade 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 giving them the opportunity to also work on sound spelling.
I also have individual About Me pages for students, giving you the opportunity to incorporate writing practice without texts. For young students, the response stem is included to support their work.
You can purchase my Kicking Off a Great Year unit by clicking the image below to head to TpT.
For some students, you may find that they struggle to answer the questions that are asked because they struggle to understand the question. I have had several students over the years that have benefitted from explicit instruction with the “W-Question words”. I created a reference page we use together during small groups to help reinforce responses. This is a great tool during oral and written questioning.
You can download this free Question Words Handout by filling out the form below. You’ll receive the link in your email confirmation.