Monday, June 17, 2013

Must Have Mondays: Types of Questions Stoplight

This week's "must have" is a very simple creation that I started doing after I was ready to pull my hair out.  Every week when my students had to do their cold read, I would have a particular student (it never failed) come up to me and run his fingers through his hair, stressed out saying, "I looked everywhere!  I can't find that answer!  It's NOT in there?!"  My response?  "You're absolutely right.  That's an inference question.  The answer is in your brain."  Now this boy was actually one of my smartest students but every week this stumped him!  I had to do something or I was going to turn into one of those teachers on TV y'all, lol.

So I came up with the Types of Questions Stoplight sign.  I taught it to my students and reviewed it every time we did a reading comprehension passage.  It worked wonders!  A miracle worker I tell ya!  Once my kids got the hang of the strategies, their scores went up because they were really decoding the questions and finding out what the author was actually asking them to do.  And all I wanted was one kid to stop asking me the same question every week, haha!  Who knew???

The spotlight method is very simple and I'm sure I can't be the only teacher that does this in one form or another.  There are three types of questions:  red light, yellow light, and green light questions.

Red light questions = STOP and think.  Your answer will not be stated explicitly in the text.  You will need to use clues from the text and your brain to come up with your answer.
Yellow light questions = SLOW DOWN and search!  You might need to look in multiple places to find the information that will make your answer.
Green light questions = GO back in the text and find your answer.

You'll notice along the sides of the poster we having graffiti looking writing.  As we introduce or review skills, we write down where they would fall on the Types of Questions Stoplight.  For example: drawing conclusions and inferring falls into the red light category whereas setting would be green light or cause and effect would be yellow light.  Now some skills can fall into all three (ex. context clues) it just depends on how the question is asked and what information is given in the text.

Once my students get their paper they read the questions first and label each one in either G, Y, or R.  This helps them understand how much time should be spent on each question and which ones they can go back and underline to prove, etc.  I always tell my students that sometimes your labeling might be wrong and that's okay!  You won't know until you read if it should be a different color.

Now I'm not saying this is the end all be all.  There are always hiccups but usually once my kids get this strategy down and actual implement it, they very rarely ever make below a high B.  And that student never had that weekly problem once he learned this strategy.  Life is good again!

What is a "must have" for you in your classroom or life?  Link up below and let us know!  Don't forget to leave some comment love on two other bloggers posts :o)


  1. I love his idea. When I tutor kids I find that many of them have not learned the different types of questions so I spend a lot of time on what questions would look like for the different skills and strategies and how to answer them. This sign would be a perfect addition. Hank for sharing this idea!
    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition

  2. I am totally digging this. I will definitely be making one of these for next year & have them add it into their reading spirals. I always have those kiddos that say they can't find the answer in the story... This will definitely be a godsend. Thanks in advance girl!!

  3. Sabra - I love this idea. It really allows the students to have a strategy, but with out teaching to the test. Thanks.

  4. What a cute idea - I am definitely going to make one! It will go perfectly in my travel-themed classroom :)

    Joy in the Journey

  5. LOVE this idea and will be adding it to my already LONG "To-Make" list. :)
    That is one question that always drives me crazy. I can see how this will definitely help! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Fun In 5th