Asking and Answering: Why Do We Need Tools? | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G1:M1:U1:L5

Asking and Answering: Why Do We Need Tools?

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These are the CCS Standards addressed in this lesson:

  • RI.1.1: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • RI.1.7: Use the illustrations and details in a text to describe its key ideas.
  • SL.1.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups. 

Daily Learning Targets

  • I can ask questions about key ideas in a photograph. (RI.1.1, SL.1.1)
  • I can answer questions about key ideas using the text from Tools. (RI.1.1, RI.1.7, SL.1.1)

Ongoing Assessment

  • During students' Think-Pair-Ask in Work Time A, observe as they use the photograph to create their questions. Pay particular attention to students who continue to struggle while using the question words on the Tools and Work Word Wall as a resource.
  • During the Closing, note which discussion norms students self-identify as areas of growth. Use this information to encourage students as you begin to collect data.


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Engaging the Learner: Mission Letter #2 (15 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Asking Questions: Using Photographs (15 minutes)

B. Reading Aloud: Tools (10 minutes)

C. Establishing Discussion Norms: Staying on Topic (5 minutes)

3. Closing 

A. Answering Questions: Using the Text (10 minutes)

B. Reflecting on Learning (5 minutes) 

Purpose of lesson and alignment to standards:

  • In this lesson, students complete a read-aloud of and use photographs from the book Tools, by Ann Morris, to practice answering questions.
  • In Work Time C, students focus on the final sub-bullet for CCSS ELA SL.1.1a: "Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion)," and the Closing provides students with an immediate opportunity to practice all of the discussion norms listed in SL.1.1a.
  • This lesson is the final in a series of three that include built-out instruction for the use of Goal 1 Conversation Cues to promote productive and equitable conversation (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O'Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O'Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades K-6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). As the modules progress, Goal 2, 3, and 4 Conversation Cues will be gradually introduced. Goal 1 Conversation Cues encourage all students to talk and be understood. Consider providing students with a thinking journal or scrap paper.

How this lesson builds on previous work:

  • During previous lessons, students asked and answered questions about the tools presented in each of the challenges. In this lesson, they further refine these skills by asking and answering questions using details from a text.

Areas in which students may need additional support:

  • During Work Time A, students may need additional support asking questions. Direct their attention to the Tools and Work Word Wall and model using one of the question words.
  • During the Closing, students may need additional reminders of the Speaking and Listening focus "stay on topic." Assist students by asking them: "What in the story makes you think that?" and "Can you show me where in the text you got that idea from?"

Down the road:

  • Students will use Tools in future lessons to talk about and sort photographs.

In Advance

  • Prepare a large sealed envelope labeled "Mission #2." Copy enough photographs from the Types of Tools, Master Picture Set for all students to have their own photograph. Place these photos, along with Tools and the Mission Letter #2, in the large envelope.
  • Set up a document camera to read Mission Letter #2 and to show other documents and texts throughout the lesson.
  • Review the Think-Pair-Share protocol. (Refer to the Classroom Protocols document for the full version of the protocol.)
  • Consider how well students are doing with the protocol and prepare re-teaching points as necessary.
  • Be aware that the Think-Pair-Share protocol (e.g., partnering with the opposite gender) may be uncomfortable and inappropriate for some students. If necessary, modify the protocol according to students' cultural traditions.
  • Post: Learning targets, "The Magic Bow," Think-Pair-Share anchor chart, Tools and Work Word Wall, Classroom Discussion Norms anchor chart, Questions about Tools anchor chart.

Tech and Multimedia

Consider using an interactive whiteboard or document camera to display lesson materials.

  • Opening A: Mission Letter #2 could be an email.
  • Work Time A: Create a slideshow of the Types of Tools, Picture Master Set.
  • Work Time A: Create the Questions about Tools? anchor chart in an online format, for example a Google Doc, to display.
  • Closing and Assessment A: Record students as they discuss the answers to the questions to listen to with students later to discuss strengths and what they could improve on, or to use as models for the group. Most devices (cell phones, tablets, laptop computers) come equipped with free video and audio recording apps or software. 

Supporting English Language Learners

Supports guided in part by CA ELD Standards 1.I.A.1, 1.I.B.5, and 1.I.B.6

Important points in the lesson itself

  • The basic design of this lesson supports ELLs by establishing guidelines for participating in verbal discussion. This will be critical for developing speaking and listening practices that enhance accurate and meaningful exchanges. 
  • It may be difficult for ELLs to generate and answer questions independently. Support them by directing them to the question words on the Tools and Work Word Wall, by modeling effective questions, and by thinking aloud possible questions. Pair students heterogeneously so that students with greater English language proficiency can model effective communication for beginning and intermediate students.

Levels of support

For lighter support:

  • During Opening A, while asking about the sentence from the Mission Letter, challenge students to generate questions about the sentence before asking the prepared questions. Example: "What questions can we ask about this sentence? Let's see if we can answer them together."

For heavier support:

  • The read-aloud during this lesson is designed to be read without interruption. Before reading, do a Picture Walk to prepare students for the content. Invite students to ask clarifying questions about the book before beginning to read. Activate prior knowledge by inviting students to identify any words or illustrations they already recognize. 

Universal Design for Learning

  • Multiple Means of Representation (MMR): This lesson continues to build students' comfort with using question words (who, what, where, when, why, how) for various purposes. To enhance comprehension and effective use of these word, display them with pre-printed or hand-drawn images. Examples: who = image of person; what = image of nonfiction text; when= image of clock.
  • Multiple Means of Action & Expression (MMAE): In this lesson students receive a new mission. Some students may benefit from reviewing how this mission is connected to the overall unit. As you discuss the new mission, support planning and strategy development by writing a list of the challenges the class has completed so far, and include the next step: "Find clues about what types of tools you can use to make things easier."
  • Multiple Means of Engagement (MME): In this lesson, students are introduced to Think-Pair-Ask, in which they need to identify a partner for sharing. First graders may struggle with the social language for finding a partner. Foster community by brainstorming strategies for what to do if a student doesn't have a partner or if they notice someone doesn't have a partner. Examples: "You can ask someone, 'Will you be my partner?'" or "You can invite them to be your partner by asking, 'Since you don't have a partner, do you want to be mine?'"


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T)

  • achieving (Mission Letter), stay on topic (L) 


  • Mission Envelope #2 (one; for Mission Letter #2 and Types of Tools, Master Picture Set; see Teaching Notes)
    • Mission Letter #2 (one to display; for teacher read-aloud)
    • Types of Tools, Master Picture Set (one picture per student; picture from page 13 for teacher model)
    • Tools by Ann Morris (book; one for teacher read-aloud)
  • "The Magic Bow" (from Lesson 1)
  • Think-Pair-Share anchor chart (begun in Lesson 1)
  • Tools and Work Word Wall (from Lesson 3; one to display)
  • Questions about Tools anchor chart (new; co-created with students during Work Time A; see supporting materials)
  • Document camera
  • Classroom Discussion Norms anchor chart (begun in Lesson 2; added to in Work Time B)


Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Learner: Mission Letter #2 (15 minutes) 

  • Gather students together whole group.
  • Briefly explain that the class has received another mission envelope--Mission Envelope #2. Tell students that you have not opened the envelope, so you are not sure what is in it.
  • Using a total participation technique, invite responses from the group:

"Do you remember what our mission is?" (to create an object needed in the classroom) 

  • Slowly open the envelope. With excitement, take out the contents:
    • Mission Letter #2
    • Types of Tools, Master Picture Set
    • Tools by Ann Morris
  • Invite students to listen closely as you read aloud Mission Letter #2, fluently and without interruption.
  • Reread the letter, asking students to listen for any words that seem important to understanding the mission.
  • Focus students on the third paragraph. Call on two or three students to suggest important words for you to underline that will help complete the mission (look, listen, read, pictures, text, tools, achieving). If students suggest the word achieving, encourage them to provide a definition. If students need support or do not suggest the word, underline the word and tell them that achieving means to get something done with hard work.
  • If a student has not yet mentioned it, underline the sentence: "Find clues about what types of tools you can use to make things easier." Tell students that they will need to remember this part of the mission when they read the book Tools later in the lesson.
  • Reread the final paragraph of the letter.
  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and read the first one aloud:

"I can ask questions about key ideas in a photograph."

  • Tell students they will begin their learning today by rereading the "The Magic Bow" from Lesson 1.
  • Reread "The Magic Bow," inviting students to echo each line of the poem as you read it slowly.
  • Invite students to turn and talk:

"What target should you 'keep your eyes on' ?"

  • Reread the first learning target aloud.
  • Ask students to show with their thumb in front of their chest if they know what they need to do today. Tell them that today they can respond in three different ways: thumbs-up means yes, thumb-sideways means sort of, and thumbs-down means not yet. If most of the students show that they do not understand, reread the target and invite students to turn and talk about what they will be doing in the lesson.
  • As you introduce Mission Letter #2, offer alternatives for auditory information by sharing the letter on a document camera. (MMR)
  • As you discuss the new mission, support planning and strategy development by writing a list of the challenges the class has completed so far, and include the next step: "Find clues about what types of tools you can use to make things easier." (MMAE)
  • As you discuss the new mission, facilitate self-regulation skills by modeling socially appropriate ways to express enthusiasm about this second mission. Examples: silent cheer, give yourself a hug, take a deep breath and smile. (MME)
  • For ELLs: Ask students about this sentence from Mission Letter #2: "Find clues about what types of tools you can use to make things easier." Examples:
    • "What is a clue? What is clue in our home languages?" (a piece of information that helps us answer a question or solve a mystery; voditko in Czech) Invite all students to repeat the translation in a different home language.
    • Say: "We need to find clues about different types of tools. What are some different types, or kinds, of tools?" (science tools, math tools, magnifying glass)
    • "Who is the sentence talking about when it says you?" (we, the class)
    • "What are some examples of things that are easier to do when we use tools?" (jobs, work, science, math)
    • "Now what do you think this sentence means?" (We will look for clues that can help us learn about what tools help us do jobs.)

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Asking Questions: Using Photographs (15 minutes) 

  • Hold up the Types of Tools, Picture Master Set from Mission Envelope #2.
  • Tell students that they are going to work with a partner to ask and answer questions about the photos.
  • Invite a few students to model what it looks like to calmly look for a partner. As students model, use a total participation technique to invite responses from the remaining students:

"How are these students looking for a partner to share with?" (They are walking calmly and using an inside voice.)

  • Tell students that when they find their partner, they should sit facing each other.
  • Invite students to calmly stand up and find a partner. 
  • Tell students that with their partner, they now will do a Think-Pair-Ask. Explain that it is just like Think-Pair-Share, but they will be practicing using their question words to ask questions about the pictures.
  • If necessary, direct students to the Think-Pair-Share anchor chart and review the routine.
  • Refer to the Tools and Work Word Wall. Remind students that it will be a good resource to use if they need help making a question.
  • With another student, model how to Think-Pair-Ask:
    • Look at the pictures.
    • Ask questions like: "What are they doing with these scissors?" "Where are the people in this picture using this tool?"
  • Distribute photographs from Mission Envelope #2.
  • Invite pairs to Think-Pair-Ask with their photographs.
  • Circulate and support students by focusing them on the picture to ask questions or by referring to the Tools and Work Word Wall question words to help them create a question.
  • If productive, use a Goal 1 Conversation Cue to encourage students to expand the conversation about the picture:

"Can you say more about that?" (Responses will vary.)

  • Refocus students whole group. Tell students you would like to hear and write down some of their questions so the class can work together to learn answers to them in this or upcoming lessons.
  • Model the process for students:
    • Show your picture from page 13.
    • Ask: "Why is this person using this tool in a field?"
    • Write the question on the Questions about Tools anchor chart.
  • Invite students to think about a question they have and to show a thumbs-up when they are ready to share. Allow a few minutes for students to think before calling on a few students to record their questions, leaving space on the chart to answer the questions in this or upcoming lessons.
  • Call on students showing a thumbs-up and capture their questions on the anchor chart.
  • Collect the pictures.
  • For ELLs: Enhance perceptual features by directing individual students' attention to pre-printed or hand-drawn images associated with each question word. Examples: who = image of person; what = image of nonfiction text; when = image of clock. (MMR)
  • For ELLs: Provide individual students with options for expression and communication by using sentence starters for asking questions. Examples: "I wonder why____?" "I wonder how___." (MMAE)
  • Before students begin the Think-Pair-Ask, foster community by offering strategies for what to do if you don't have a partner or if you notice someone doesn?t have a partner. Examples: "You can ask someone, 'Will you be my partner?'" or "You can invite them to be your partner by asking, 'Since you don't have a partner, do you want to be mine?'" (MME)
  • For ELLs: Invite students to use their home languages to help generate questions about the pictures. This will make them more comfortable engaging with the content, and it will facilitate transfer of language skills across languages.
  • For ELLs: If students struggle to put words to their ideas, invite them to mime their thoughts and questions. Remind students of the word or concept they recalled and help them form a question. Prompt them to repeat the sentence back after scribing it. Example: "I think you are saying you wonder if the tool is heavy. I am going to write: Is it heavy? Can you say that with me?"

B. Reading Aloud: Tools (10 minutes) 

  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and read the second learning target aloud:

"I can answer questions about key ideas using the text from Tools."

  • Ask students to turn and talk:

"What questions do you think we might be able to answer with this text? (Responses will vary.)

  • Using a document camera, display Tools. Share with students that they can learn about other science tools from this book. Draw students' attention to the title of the book and read the title aloud.
  • While still displaying the text, complete a first read of the text, reading slowly, fluently, with expression, and without interruption.
  • Ask students to give a silent signal if they heard the answer to one of their questions. Tell them to lock it in their brain to share with a partner in a minute.
  • As you read Tools, guide information processing by prompting students to look for clues in the photographs as well as the words. (MMR)

  • For ELLs: To facilitate active listening, assign students specific tools to watch and listen for during the reading. Allow students to hold the photographs of their assigned tools as they listen to the read-aloud. Prompt them to give a thumbs-up when they hear information about their special tools.
  • Enhance students' capacity for self-monitoring progress by developing a silent signal for hearing their answer before the reading, and as you read, proactively prompt students to use the silent signal if they learn the answer to their question. (MMAE)
  • For ELLs: Optimize motivation and increase on-task orientation by inviting individual children to "lock the answers to their questions" by drawing on white boards as they listen to Tools. (MME)

C. Establishing Discussion Norms: Staying on Topic (5 minutes) 

  • Focus students' attention on the Classroom Discussion Norms anchor chart.
  • Tell them there is one more thing to add to the anchor chart before they share what they heard in the book Tools.
  • Add the phrase "Stay on topic" to the list of norms and read that new norm aloud.
  • Have students turn and talk:
  • "What does the phrase stay on topic mean?" (The person speaking should talk only about what the class is focusing on, the story being read, or the question being asked. Staying on topic helps you understand what the speaker is trying to teach you.)
  • Ask a student to join you in modeling how to stay on topic.
  • Tell the class that first, you will show them what it sounds like to speak with a partner by staying on topic. Note: Ask the student modeling with you to model listening with care and looking at the speaker.
  • Say: 

"In the book, I heard the answer to my question. My question was about the person in the field. Now I know that person was farming because I saw it in the book."

  • Tell the class that now you will show them what it sounds like if you do not stay on topic.
  • Say:

"In the book, I saw a boy getting his hair cut. I get my hair cut, too, from this cool salon. My sister doesn' t like getting her hair cut."

  • Ask:

"What did you notice was different between my two answers?" (The first answer talked about the book; it answered the question. The second answer was about your sister, and that isn't a part of what we are talking about.)

  • For ELLs: The concept of staying on topic may be difficult to grasp for students learning English. Support them to stay on topic by asking probing questions that redirect their thinking. Be gentle and patient if they are off topic so they feel safe and supported as they express themselves. Example: "Wow, my sister doesn't like getting her hair cut either. Tell me more about the character in the book!"
  • As you discuss stay on topic with the class, provide alternatives in expectations for the rate at which students might answer questions. Example: Extend wait time. (MMAE)
  • Heighten the salience of the goal/objective by prompting students to restate the meaning of stay on topic to a shoulder partner. (MME)

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Answering Questions: Using the Text (10 minutes) 

  • Remind students they should stay on topic while talking about what they heard or saw in the book that could answer their questions.
  • Reread the questions written on the Questions about Tools anchor chart.
  • Invite students to turn and talk:

"What answers to these questions did you hear or see in Tools?"

  • Circulate and give specific positive feedback to students who are staying on topic as they discuss. Listen for exemplary answers and call on those students to share whole group.
  • Invite predetermined students to share. Record their answers on the Questions about Tools anchor chart.
  • Demonstrate how the answers are on topic by rereading the question and the answer together as time allows.
  • For ELLs: Some students may need more guidance than a verbal prompt to turn and talk about their answers. Have two strong students "fishbowl" for the class to model their discussion about Tools.
  • For ELLs: Provide options for expression and communication by prompting individual students with sentence starters in order to stay on topic. Examples: "Before we read, I wondered ____. As I listened to the book and studied the pictures, I learned the answer to my question was____." (MMAE)
  • Develop self-assessment and reflection by asking students to evaluate whether their partner partnership followed the discussion norms. Example: "Did you and your partner listen with care, look at the speaker, take turns speaking, and stay on topic? Give a thumbs-up on your chest if you think you followed the discussion norms." (MME)

B. Reflecting on Learning (5 minutes) 

  • Remind students that the best learning happens when learners check to see how well they are doing and what they can do to be even better. Tell them that this is called "assessing" and that today they will learn to do a Sit, Kneel, Stand protocol.
  • Ask students to silently think about how the class did with the discussion norms while you reread the Classroom Discussion Norms anchor chart.
  • Say: "If you think the class did none of these well, you should stay sitting. If you think the class did some of these well, you should kneel. If you think the class did all of these well, you should stand in your spot."
  • Comment on how the class has rated itself ("I noticed that half of the class thinks you followed the classroom discussion norms well today.")
  • Have students sit, and cold call on a student to share his/her thoughts.
  • Prompt students to clarify and justify their thinking with questions such as: "Why do you think the class did some of these really well?" and "What can our class do a little better next time?"
  • After a student is done sharing, invite that student to call on another student to share his/her thinking.
  • Share with students that they will use this information to help them have more successful conversations in the next lesson. 
  • As you introduce the Sit, Kneel, Stand protocol, build support for practice and performance by first asking students: "Can you show me what it looks like/sounds like to kneel? This is tricky. That's right! It's like standing on both knees." (MMAE)
  • Increase mastery-oriented feedback by recording ideas on a white board or on chart paper labeled "Following Discussion Norms" with a T-chart labeled "What we did well" and "What we will work on next time." (MME)

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