Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
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about the underground railroad
following the footsteps
eyewitness to history
figure it out
mapping it out
secrets: language, signs and symbols
create a quilt block
living history
underground railroad library
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Activity Plan: Group Questioning

Teacher Directions

Students have been introduced to different kinds of questions in the Underground Railroad site with the "Eyewitness to History" link. In this activity, students practice generating questions and answers as well as posing the questions to classmates in a small group.

Review the rationale for knowing about kinds of questions with students. Good readers pose questions, and the questions help learners to know where answers can be found. When readers see the relationship of the answer to the question, they comprehend what the author is saying and think about the meaning the author intended. Raphael (1986) categorized question-answer relationships. Some questions can be found right in the text directly. These are "Right there" questions. A second type is "Think and Search" where the answer must be inferred from several sentences or parts of the text. The third type "On Your Own," are questions for which the student must supply the answers from their own knowledge and experience. The answers cannot be found in the text.

1. Direct students to reread "The Secrets of Quilts" in the "Secrets, Language, Signs & Symbols" area. Model an example of each kind of question:

Right There: Who were the historians who knew that Africans used coded information?

Think and Search: Why was the Bowtie pattern important?

On Your Own: Are today's quilts similar to those during slavey times?

2. Using Resource 1, "Questions I Have," direct students to develop 4 questions based on "The Secrets of Quilts. Questions may be of any kind but at least two questions should be "Think and Search" questions. Students should also write the answers to each of their questions on the Resource Sheet provided.

3. In teams or small groups, students may take turns asking questions of each other. As a student answers a question, he/she should pose the next question. If a question has already been answered, students should not repeat the questions but place a checkmark in front of the question. Continue the process until each question as been addressed and answered.

4. As an extension activity for further practice with question-answer relationships, students may find another text from the Underground Railroad site and repeat the activity.

Overarching Directions for Student Use

In the activity, Group Questioning, you will have a chance to practice different kinds of questions that you may have read about in the "Eyewitness to History" link of the Underground Railroad. When you know how to find answers to questions, you are better able to understand what you are reading. Asking questions helps you to see how the answer is connected to the kind of question you ask. Using "The Secrets of Quilts," you develop 4 questions and answers. Then in your team, you will have a chance to ask your questions and give answers to your team's questions. Finally, you will reflect on what you learned about questioning with an article that explains the procedure.

Good luck and Happy Questioning!

• Resource 1 - Questions I Have »

• The Language of Quilts »
• »

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