Notice and Note: Tough Questions

The third signpost in the Notice and Note Signpost for Fiction is Tough Questions.  When a reader is tracking her comprehension and she comes across a situation where a character is reflecting on a big moment, they are asking themselves a Tough Question.  As easy as this signpost sounds, it was by far the most difficult one for my students to look at.  Every time a character asked a question, they wanted to claim it was a tough question.  We needed a lot of examples and work to get on the right track with this signpost.  But, once we got moving, it really helped our comprehension grow.

Tough Questions allow readers to dig deeper into the meaning of text.  When we look for Tough Question signposts we need to think about character because Tough Questions help students learn about internal conflict.  This is a great time to teach types of conflict as well!! Usually I teach Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. The World and Man vs. Self.  The Tough Questions signpost is taught after Man vs. Self.

In the Signpost book, Beers and Probst use A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. Have you read this novel?  AMAZING.. truly an inspirational story.  It should definitely be in your library.
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I've also found several other resources that I used to help my students.  It was helpful for us to use our Notice and Note Signpost Tabbed Booklets to keep track of our comprehension.

Here are a few resources I used to introduce and practice Tough Questions:
Cooler Self - A Short Animation by Ozan Basaldi from Ozan Basaldi on Vimeo.

We also used a clip from Mulan.  Usually I show them Prepping for the Matchmaker, and we talk about whether this is the best choice for Mulan.  Then we watch the Reflection sequence.

Here is a student example of the page in our Tabbed Booklets.  

I've also used these books to help students:
Have you read The Yellow Star?
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I love to use this book because it fits in with our Social Studies curriculum and World War II. Though this story is a legend, it has a remarkable message, and does a great job getting students to think about the Tough Question.  The king of Denmark is faced with a difficult decision when his country is about to be occupied, and Jews are forced to wear yellow stars on their clothing.  He must chose what is right for all people.  

Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
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Eve Bunting, deep on so many different levels.  her books are amazing for students because of her messages.  You have the ability to think about conflict and theme with both fourth graders and middle school age students with this type of book.  Bunting's books always have a twist and can really get a reader to think about the messages people send.

Bully by Patricia Polacco

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Again, Polacco is an amazing author on so many levels.  I love this story because for Upper Elementary students the idea of cliques is all too much their every day reality.  Even in grades as low as third and fourth we start to see girls form cliques and shut others out.  Add in the social media of the 5th-8th grade set, and the Tough Questions asked in this book are an amazing way to have a conversation about more that our reading comprehension!

Do you have any favorites for Tough Questions?  I'd love to add your suggestions to my book list! 

1 comment

  1. I am really loving your Notice and Note posts! I'm teaching Tough Questions this week and will then be caught up with everything you have posted about. Do you plan to post about the other three signposts? Please say YES!! :)


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