Note: I first heard about QAR in a workshop with Carol Gaab during our 2011 AFLA Conference. I began to dig into it and published this post soon thereafter. Imagine my surprise when my principal brought in consultant Susan Van Zant just two weeks after I published it, announcing to the staff that this would be a school wide initiative! It just goes to show how valuable language teachers are to a school: our goals are the same, and we need to be sharing what we are doing and learning with ALL teachers in our buildings, because it is good for students.
What is QAR?
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. It was developed by Taffy Raphael to help students become better readers.
What are the four QAR types?
There are four kinds of Question-Answer Relationships, and I will give examples related to this short passage:
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.
- 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?) This is an "All in the text" QAR type--readers should not bring any outside information or their opinion to answer the question.
- 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?) This is an "All in the text" QAR type--readers should not bring any outside information or their opinion to answer the question.
- Author and Me - 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?) This is a "Not all in the text" QAR type--readers have to bring together information from the text with information from outside the text in order to answer.
- 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?) This is a "Not all in the text" QAR type--in fact, the answer is not in the text at all! If the reader needs to know something about the text in order to answer, it becomes an "Author and Me" question.
Types 1 and 2 are the most straightforward comprehension questions. Type 3 questions can still be comprehension questions because they require students to draw on information from the text and apply it to their lives. Type 4 questions are NOT comprehension questions. Use Types 3 and 4 for class discussion--taking the text or the themes from the text and helping students connect it to their own lives.
How can I use QAR with my students?
I use QAR as a model for students to follow when I have them write questions for a given reading. I teach them about the different question types and then ask them to write "Right There" or "Think and Search" or "Author and Me" or "On My Own" questions, or a combination of some of them, for activities like Quiz Quiz Trade. 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. Typically, I introduce this strategy as an activity to follow 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 I collect the questions from all of the students or pairs, I either have them trade questions with another person or pair and respond to the questions they've received, or I mix and match them to make an assessment (formal or informal/formative). I also sometimes have students write questions about stories that we've created or shared in class; it doesn't have to be about a reading!
How can I introduce QAR to my students?
I created a presentation to introduce QAR to my students that includes examples and an opportunity for them to practice. Find the presentation and read more about how I introduce QAR to students in this post.