Use details to ask and answer questions about a text (Inclusive Big Idea #1)

What are students learning?

Reading Informational Text

Grade 2: English Language Arts

Inclusive Big Idea #1: Use details to ask and answer questions about a text

Standard: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text. RI.2.1

How could I teach this?

Think about how instructional strategies and activities can give students multiple ways to engage with learning. One way won’t work for all, so how can you remove and reduce barriers for all students?

  • KWL Charts: Before, during, and after reading a text, model how to create a Know, Wonder, Learn (KWL) chart to answer questions about key details in the text. These can be digital or paper-based. Learn more about graphic organizers in this TIP Sheet.
    • What we Know about a topic
    • What we Wonder about a topic
    • What we Learned about a topic
  • Instructional Conversations: Individually, in small groups, or with the whole class, engage a conversation about a content-area topic. Activate student background knowledge about what they already know about the topic. Provide direct information about the topic to build their knowledge through multiple means, such as video, text, images, or more. Ask different questions about the topic, these can be recorded on the board or on a handout, and allow the group to have an open conversation about the topic. Students should support their ideas by using information they learned from books or other multimedia sources. See this TIP Sheet for more information on Whole Group Discussions.
  • Sort to Understand: Students can sort pictures or key words into categories of “who, what, when, where.” These can be digital or paper-based and students could have the option to collaborate, if helpful
  • Matching: Students can match identical pictures to the text (e.g., person to person, place to place). These can be digital or paper-based and students could have the option to collaborate, if helpful.
  • Concept Sort: Have students sort key details associated with various topics. Choose two or more familiar topics and a text about each topic and have the students sort/match word cards, picture cards, digital cards, or objects according to the topic, manipulating the words/pictures/objects to the corresponding text. Students answer who, what, when, where, why, and how questions about each topic or text verbally or by pointing to the picture or object.
  • Key Details Think Aloud: Using a text from a read-aloud, shared reading lesson, or guided reading lesson, model how to select and organize the key details in a story by using a story graphic organizer. These can be digital or paper-based and students could have the option to collaborate as they organize key details, if helpful. See this TIP Sheet for more information on how to model using a Think Aloud.
  • Picture Glossary: Provide a picture glossary for the terms who, what, where, when, why, and how. These can be done digitally or with paper and encourage students to contribute to the understanding.
  • 5W Questions: Before, during, and after reading the text, ask students 5W Questions to highlight the key details. Provide model examples so they know what success looks like. Give the students a graphic organizer or sentence stems with pictures for each W question
    • Who is this article about?
    • Where do these events take place?
    • When did these events take place?
    • What happened?
    • Why did this event happen?

Don’t stop here! Remember to reduce barriers for all students.

Make reducing barriers a process - take a few minutes to think about your process! Is there a barrier related to:

  • interest or engagement? Think about how to incorporate student’s lived experiences, culture, and interests… 
  • background knowledge? Think about how to highlight key ideas and define key vocabulary… 
  • showing what they know? Think about having options for how they use learning tools and technology to communicate…

For example, one possible barrier is the amount of information that a student needs to hold in mind.

Ideas to reduce this barrier could include:

  • be aware of how much sensory input occurs at once, perhaps offer the option to use headphones
  • show examples and provide answers to check along the way
  • provide templates or graphic organizers
  • allow use of spell checks and other tools 

Use these Inclusive Strategies to help reduce barriers.

Tell me more about this Inclusive Big Idea (I need a refresher)

Brush up on the content of this Inclusive Big Idea. It will help you and your colleagues to understand and teach this content better.

  • The Big Idea: Use details to ask and answer questions about a text
  • Tell me more about… Using Details
    • The supporting details of informational text are information that helps to clarify the reader’s understanding of the most important points that the author is trying to make about a specific subject. Identifying and categorizing main ideas within informational text is critical to successful readers. You support your main idea by explaining it, describing it, defining it, or otherwise giving information about it.
  • Tell me more about… Asking Questions
    • To understand a text, it is important for readers to be able to evaluate their own metacognition and comprehension of a text. Readers need to be able to clarify their understanding by questioning themselves and the text to determine if what they read makes sense and if they need further information to comprehend the content.
  • Tell me more about… Answering Questions
    • In order to answer a question correctly, students have to know where they can find the key details necessary to learn the answers.
      • Right There questions: Answers to this type of question are explicitly mentioned in the text.
      • Think and Search questions: Answers to these questions require students to pull key details from multiple parts of a text to draw a conclusion.
      • Author and Me questions: Answers to these questions require students to make connections between key details from the story and their own experiences.
      • On my Own questions: While prompts such as these are aligned with the text, answers to this type of question require the students to pull key details exclusively from their own experiences and thoughts.


Looking for more suggestions? Target student common misconceptions, build on interdisciplinary links, and implement strategies and supports across multiple lessons or units.

Common Student Misconceptions

  • Answering Questions: Not all answers can be found in the text; some answers rely on the reader to incorporate personal experience and perspective. There can be more than one acceptable answer.
  • Supporting Details: Not all information in the text is considered supporting details. Authors sometimes provide additional details that are not essential to the understanding of the main idea.
  • All Areas: Reading informational text for key ideas is equally as important in language arts as it is in all other curricular areas. Once a student learns how to read, organize, understand, and collect valuable information from reading text, those skills can then be utilized in all subject areas. Students often need explicit instruction in how to transfer these skills to content area texts that have specialized text structures and vocabulary which can challenge comprehension. It is important that teachers in all of the content areas support the ideas and skills taught in this Big Idea.

Everyday Connections

  • In the Kitchen: Read directions to determine the important details for how to complete an assignment or to follow a recipe.
  • After School: Gather information to figure out the key details for how to play a game or join a club or team at school or in the community.
  • Let’s Play: Read how-to guides to determine the key details for how to create something of interest to them, such as building a Lego kit.

Explore other Inclusive Big Ideas to think about the content you are teaching. How can you connect what you are teaching now to what has been taught before or what will be taught in the future?

Other TIES resources:

Inclusive Big Ideas: Standards-based resources for inclusive classrooms | TIES Center

The Inclusive Big Ideas were adapted from resources created by the NCSC Project , a federal grant from the US Department of Education (PR/Award #: H373X100002), However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

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