I learned about QAR in a workshop with Carol Gaab during our 2011 AFLA Conference (thanks, Cara, for reminding me where I heard this!).

QAR, or Question-Answer Relationships, is a reading strategy that helps students to learn how to search a text for the answer to a question based on what kind of a question it is. This is a great website that explains the strategy in great detail.

I use QAR as a model for students to follow when I have them write questions for a given reading. It takes a fair amount of front-loading because it’s definitely a confusing concept at first, but it is worth the one-time effort and class time spent so that you and your students have this activity/tool at your disposal.

Here is a very short story that I will use to illustrate the kinds of relationships:

“Bob runs to school. He is very fast. After school, he plays football with his friends at the park. Before bed, he always does 50 push-ups.”

The four kinds of relationships are explained on the ReadingQuest Strategies site as follows:

  1. Right There -You can answer these questions by looking at one sentence or small part of the text; it is a tangible answer that you could point to. (Ex: How many push-ups does Bob do before bed?)
  2. Think and Search – The answer appears explicitly in the text, but requires that you connect several ideas or parts of the text in order to answer it.  (Ex: What are some ways that Bob stays active throughout the day?)
  3. Author and You. The answer does not explicitly appear in the text, so the reader needs to combine the information from the text with his/her own knowledge in order to respond. (Ex: Would you consider Bob to be an athletic person?)
  4. On My Own – The answer does not appear in the text, nor do you have to know anything about the text in order to answer it. (Ex: What are some benefits of being active?)
Types 3 and 4 are the kinds of questions that work best for PQA–you are taking the text or the themes from the text and helping students connect it to their own lives.
qar1 copyTypically, I use this strategy as an activity to accompany a reading. Students read a story individually or in pairs and then write several questions about the text. Depending on the length of the reading, I might have them write 3 “Right There” questions, 2 “Think and Search” questions, 1 “Author and You” question, and 2 or 3 “On my own” questions. (I like to have lots of “On my own” questions to choose from so that we can get a great discussion going!) Students should provide answers for “Right There” and “Think and Search” questions, but answers will vary for the other two types, so they can provide their OWN answers, but they can’t make a key. After you’ve collected the questions from all of the students or pairs, you can either have them trade questions with another person or pair and respond to the questions they’ve received, or you can mix and match them to make an assessment. You could also have students write questions about stories that you’ve told in class; it doesn’t have to be about a reading!
I created a Keynote presentation to introduce QAR to my students that includes examples and an opportunity for them to practice; I’ve uploaded a PDF of the Keynote here: QAR


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