Beginning WH Questions Goal Ideas
- Given a familiar picture from her life, NAME will answer 2-3 WH questions (who, where, what, when) about a personal experience with 70% accuracy across 2 sessions.
- Given visual answer choices, NAME will answer simple WH questions (who, where, what) about pictures with 75% accuracy across 3 data collection opportunities.
- Given a visual and 1 verbal prompt, NAME will answer concrete WH questions about real pictures with 65% accuracy.
- Given a visual and minimal verbal cues, NAME will answer familiar WH questions in conversation with 75% accuracy.
WH Questions from Narratives Goal Ideas
- NAME will answer simple comprehension questions about short stories read out loud with 65% accuracy given a familiar visual.
- Given 2-3 picture answer choices, NAME will answer simple WH questions (what, who, where) about a familiar book by pointing to the correct picture in 3/5 opportunities given minimal cues.
- NAME will answer simple WH questions about a short story with 75% accuracy given a familiar visual and 1 verbal cue.
- NAME will answer advanced WH questions (when, why, how) about a short story read out loud with 85% accuracy given no additional prompts.
Comprehension Question Goals
- When provided a short text, NAME will find the answer to simple WH questions within the text with 85% accuracy given a familiar visual.
- NAME will answer comprehension questions about short texts with 80% accuracy across 3 sessions.
Read more about my goals here.
Teaching WH Questions
Asking WH questions during shared reading is a key feature of dialogic reading, a research-supported strategy for increasing vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.
To teach how to answer WH questions directly and systematically, I’d recommend focusing on one question type at a time and providing scaffolded support including visuals and child-friendly definitions of each type (e.g., “who means a person”).
In the beginning of targeting this skill, focusing on one question type at a time allows for initial learning, understanding, and success. Once students demonstrate growth, it can be effective to interleave, or do more random practice, where you cycle through different WH question types or target several at once.
You can also use different WH question types to practice Sentence Formulation skills!
Based on research with children with intellectual disabilities, children were the most accurate at answering “what” questions and the least accurate at answering “when” questions (Sanders et al, 2018). From this research, the order of difficulty of the different WH question types is:
What ➡️ Who ➡️ Where ➡️ How ➡️ Why ➡️ When
As expected, answering concrete questions was easier than answering abstract questions (which require background knowledge).
Students can practice answering WH questions about real pictures (including pictures from their life!), picture scenes, and then progressively longer and more complex stories and texts.
When telling stories, it’s important that children are able to set the scene (who, where, when) and explain what happened (how, why). Providing this kind of information is a foundational skill for storytelling.
Knowledge of WH questions also helps to anchor past events in your memory by reminiscing about the most important, salient, key information.
Just remember, keep WH question drill to a minimum. It’s best for data collection or progress monitoring, but not actual teaching.
WH Questions in Context
WH questions, like many language skills, are best targeted in context whenever possible.
Like I mentioned above, dialogic reading is one technique that provides opportunities to answer WH questions during shared reading. This article from Reading Rockets provides a lot of helpful information on how to do this technique.
Three easy to implement ideas (in order of difficulty) for targeting WH questions in context are:
Ask the caregivers of the children you work with to provide real pictures from their lives (on vacation, doing everyday tasks at home, with their favorite people, in their favorite places, etc…). Write WH questions for each picture and practice talking about them and answering questions about them. You can monitor progress of this skill using my WH Questions Using Real Pictures resource.
Picture Scenes + Books
Ask and answer WH questions about familiar and preferred picture books. My narrative units, like Searching for Home, include lots of leveled activities that target WH questions about the story.
For students with a higher language level, you can practice answering WH questions from longer texts including those in my WH Questions from Short Texts resource and free ones found on ReadWorks.
While there is a time and place for assessing skills, monitoring progress, and directly teaching WH question words directly, much of your intervention and work in this area is best done in context.
If it seems like the students you’re working with are memorizing WH questions and their respective answers (and not generalizing the skill), I’d recommend backing up and targeting more foundational skills.
For an easy way to target WH questions within a themed or story unit, check out my contextualized units below.
Each one includes easy to use materials targeting WH questions about stories and engaging topics and themes!
Want any easy button to target WH questions using wordless picture books made just for speech therapy sessions? Check out my story units linked below:Shop Story Units Shop Themed Units