EL Support Lesson

Asking Deeper Questions

Use this lesson to help your ELs ask different types of questions as they read. Students will analyze a story and ask questions based on the text. This lesson could be used on its own or used as support to the Red Light, Green Light lesson.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Red Light, Green Light Questions lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Red Light, Green Light Questions lesson plan.

Students will be able to ask and differentiate between recall questions and inferential questions while they read.


Students will be able to write questions about a fiction text, with the "five Ws and one H" interrogative words, using a graphic organizer.

(2 minutes)
  • Access student prior knowledge by asking the following question: What do you do when you don't understand something you read?
  • Have students turn to a partner to share their response. Call on a few students to repeat their answers to the whole group.
  • Engage students in a discussion and guide them to the idea that good readers frequently ask questions about a text to help them make sense of the story they are reading. Knowing how to ask good questions is an important skill when we are curious or confused about something we read. Creating questions also helps us discover deeper meanings to the story.
(5 minutes)
  • Explain to students that they will learn how to ask questions about a story, but first they will explore some vocabulary related to this topic.
  • Display the vocabulary cards on the document camera and introduce the tiered words one at a time, along with their definitions.
  • Distribute a Glossary to each student and allow them to read the words and definitions aloud. Instruct them to write the meaning in their home language if possible.
  • Have students draw a picture or symbol to add meaning to their understsanding of the vocabulary term.
  • Have students turn to a partner and use one of the words in a sentence. In each partnership, students should use a different word than their partner.
(7 minutes)
  • Display the Asking Deeper Questions in Fiction Texts worksheet on the document camera, and read the teaching box aloud. Ask a volunteer to reread the definitions of red light and green light questions.
  • Read the example aloud, pointing out how you came up with the red light question (the answer is clearly in the text) vs. the green light question (you must think a little before using clues from the text plus your own background knowledge to answer the question).
  • Ask students if there are any words or phrases they do not understand. Provide definitions, images, or examples of the unclear phrases.
  • Reiterate and emphasize the difference between green light and red light questions as explained in the worksheet.
  • Review the 5 W's (When, Where, What, Who, Why) and 1 H (How) for interrogative statements. Have each word displayed on a word wall along with the definitions or examples on a piece of chart paper. Invite ELs to add the question words in their home language (L1) if applicable. Note: These questions are all related to the topic of recess.
    • When: "When does recess start?" (Red light question)
    • Where: "Where do most students spend recess?" (Red light question)
    • What: "What is recess for?" (Green light question)
    • Who: "Who is in charge of safety during recess?" (Red light question)
    • Why: "Why is it important to have adult supervision at recess?" (Green light question)
    • How: "How does recess affect student learning?" (Green light question)
  • Explain why each question is either a red or green light question.
(10 minutes)
  • Instruct students to write one red light question and one green light question in the chart provided on the second page of the Asking Deeper Questions in Fiction Texts worksheet. Students must also answer the questions they ask in the space provided. Answering their own questions will help them to check their work and consider what type of question they are asking.
  • Tell students that the sentence stems are there as ideas to get them started on creating excellent questions based on the text. Inform them that they may come up with their own questions without using the sentence stems if they prefer.
  • Circulate the group and help students complete the activity.


  • Have students work with a more advanced EL as a partner for the discourse level focus.
  • Allow ELs to use bilingual resources to define challenging vocabulary in the lesson.


  • Have advanced ELs design red light and green light questions without the sentence stems.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in class discussions.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary, summarizing important information for the class.
(8 minutes)
  • Distribute an index card and a red and a green colored pencil to students. Instruct students to write their name on the index card.
  • Tell them they will use the text from the Asking Deeper Questions in Fiction Texts worksheet to come up with their own red light and green light question. Then, they will underline a part of the text with a green colored pencil and write a green light question on one side of the index card based on the text they underlined. On the other side of the index card, they will write one red light question and also highlight the evidence that contributes to their question with a red colored pencil.
  • Use the index cards to measure how well students met the learning objective.
(3 minutes)
  • Have students switch their card with another classmate and explain to the class why each question is a green light or a red light question. They may use this sentence frame as a guide: "____ (question from classmate) is a ____ light question because it ____."

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