Recurring Lesson

Using QARs to Develop Comprehension and Reflective Reading Habits

6 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 40-minute sessions
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Middle school is a time when students move from reading for literal comprehension to developing inferential comprehension strategies. This lesson provides a foundation for building reflective reading habits, which enables students to develop these higher-level comprehension strategies. Students are introduced to a variety of question-answer relationships (QARs), in an effort to increase comprehension during reading and increase personal awareness of their own reading processes. Using the QAR strategy, students identify different types of questions and learn how to determine the appropriate response for each question type. With continued practice, this process becomes automatic and students ask questions of themselves while reading to monitor comprehension.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Metacognition—maintaining an internal dialogue while reading—is important for developing comprehension.

  • Introducing question-answer relationships (QARs) as a comprehension strategy motivates students to attend to the text more carefully.

  • There are two general categories in the QAR paradigm: In the book (i.e., questions require use of the text) and In my head (i.e., questions that draw on the personal experiences of the reader and author).

  • In each category, there are two types of questions. In the book includes Right There questions (i.e., the answer can be found in one specific place in the text) and Think and Search questions (i.e., the answer requires piecing together different parts of the text). In my head includes On My Own questions (i.e., the answer is related to the reader's personal experiences) and Author and Me questions (i.e., the answer is related to the reader's personal experiences as well as the author's perspective).

  • Involving students in the process of developing QARs motivates reading interest.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Individual copies of Richard Peck's "A One-Woman Crime Wave" from A Long Way From Chicago (Dial Books for Young Readers, 1998)

  • Markers and construction paper

  • Multiple computers with Internet access and Adobe Acrobat Reader




1. For an introduction to the QAR strategy, use the lesson, "Guided Comprehension: Self-Questioning Using Question-Answer Relationships."

2. Ensure computer access to the Internet and Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free if necessary. Each student should sit at a computer, but if this is not feasible, group several students around one computer.

3. Review the story Daniel's Ride by Michael Perry at the International Children's Digital Library. Type in the book title and click "search" to access this text. The International Children's Digital Library features full-page scans of hundreds of children's books, so other texts can easily be substituted for Daniel's Ride. The text appears quite small at first, so click the zoom button (magnifying glass icon) to get a better view.

4. Photocopy enough copies of the Question-Answer Relationships and Reading Stop Points handouts for the entire class.

5. Develop models for each of the four QAR question types that correspond to the text you will be using. Sample questions for Daniel's Ride are provided.

6. Gather large construction paper and markers, and make individual copies of "A One-Woman Crime Wave" by Richard Peck.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Develop an understanding of asking and answering different levels of questions

  • Understand that there are four types of questions for a text: On My Own, Right There, Think and Search, and Author and Me

  • Develop more effective reading comprehension skills by learning and applying the QAR strategy

  • Become more reflective and, subsequently, more aware of their internal reading processes

Session 1

1. Ask the class to brainstorm strategies that good readers use to monitor their comprehension while reading. Record students' responses on the board.

2. Jumping off either a student-generated strategy or one you generated yourself, explain that one of the best strategies good readers use is to ask themselves questions while they read. This helps them understand the text, as well as increase their level of engagement. Questions are usually asked at the end of a text to measure comprehension, but that is not always the best approach. Explain that in this lesson, you are going to be asking questions while students read, and you would like them to think about how this new approach affects their understanding of the story.

3. Divide the class into small groups, ideally with four students in each group.

4. Go to the International Children's Digital Library website and access Daniel's Ride. As a class, read the text, stopping periodically to ask questions. Sample questions for Daniel's Ride are provided for your convenience. If you develop your own questions for a text, be sure to include at least one question for each QAR type. As you ask a question, post it on the board and invite students to collaborate first with their groups, and then with the whole class to develop responses. Record responses on the board as well.

5. After completing the story, distribute the Question-Answer Relationships handout and review the four QAR question types (see From Theory to Practice). Ask your students to match the questions you posed about Daniel's Ride to the types described in the handout. Students may complete this task with their groups and then share their notes with the class.

6. After matching the questions, ask students to write a short reflection on how each question type impacted their thinking and reading. Possible prompts include:
  • Which questions were more difficult and why?

  • Why did some questions invite more responses than others?

  • What happened to your reading and understanding of the text based on this activity?

  • In what ways did your understanding of the text improve?

Session 2

1. After reviewing the four types of QARs and the activities completed in Session 1, introduce a new text to students. A short story or self-contained chapter works best. While many stories work well with this activity, one possibility is "A One-Woman Crime Wave" from Richard Peck's A Long Way From Chicago. This fictional text set during the Great Depression follows a strong-willed grandmother and her two grandchildren who visit her every summer. Each chapter details a fictional adventure from a different summer. "A One-Woman Crime Wave" recounts the summer of 1931, and is a humorous account of a catfish expedition, the interesting bait used to acquire the family's dinner, and the rules "bent" along the way.

2. Ask students to read the text silently. Hand out the Reading Stop Points or post your own "stop points" for a different text on the board. "Stop points" are designated points in the text where students should stop and develop a question that corresponds to one of the QAR types. Students should complete the Reading Stop Points handout as they read the accompanying story.

Session 3

1. Upon completion of the reading and question development, ask students to share their questions with their groups. The groups should select one question for each QAR type and write them in a web format on a large piece of construction paper. Then, ask students to pass their paper to another group. Give each group about five minutes to respond to the questions. Groups should record their answers directly on the construction paper. Continue this process until all groups have read and responded to each other's questions. Give each group a different color marker so you can identify their responses.

2. Post each group's web in the classroom so students can compare the types of responses. Discuss with the class why they think there are similarities and differences in the responses.

3. After the class discussion, ask students to write about the different question types and responses, and what the QAR strategy revealed about their understanding of the text and their reading process. Encourage students to not only focus on what they read, but also what they learned about the process of reading.


  • Encourage students to make use of the QAR strategy with other reading assignments throughout the school year. The lesson, "QARs + Tables = Successful Comprehension of Math Word Problems," offers an example of using the QAR strategy in a math class.

  • Instead of using teacher-generated questions, have students generate questions for whole-class and small-group reading assignments.

  • Ask students to keep a journal that includes descriptions of what they are reading, as well as what they are learning about reading.

  • Have student groups go to the SuperThinkers website for further work on developing reflective and critical comprehension strategies. This excellent website gets students involved in reading, writing, and reflecting on both content and process.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Teacher observation of small- and whole-group question development and discussion

  • Teacher review of individual and written reflections

  • Student comprehension of future texts as measured by an oral and/or written retelling

  • Student performance on standardized tests designed to measure reading comprehension

  • QAR rubric to evaluate student's understanding of the different QAR question types and how they relate to the process of reading

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