I have several students who are answering a how question with a why response. Our students with language delays, autism, and 2nd language learners often have trouble with these skills. “How” and “Why” questions are question forms that require a higher level of thinking and language skills to formulate responses. The students often need the ability to problem solve or take on another perspective when answering them. When looking through the Language Arts section of the “Common Core Standards” I discovered this would be a skill they would need. Like many of you, I am rethinking what is most valuable to my students as we try to align curriculum with the “Common Core Standards”. I made task cards to specifically address how and why question forms from a given text.
Students may require some direct teaching on the differences between how and why questions. How question have a few variations. It may require a student to tell how something is done in steps, how something is done descriptively, the amount of something, or state of being such as with “How are you feeling?”. The answer may contain an adjective or adverb.
Answering why questions often involves finding the antecedent or cause of an event. The answer recalls facts that happened before an event. For example the question “Why did the dog dig a hole?” He dug a hole because he smelled a bone under the ground. Compare this to the how question. “How did he get the bone?” He dug a hole with his paws and grabbed it with his mouth.
Answers to how question often relate an action and possible steps. These response can seem to be quite similar to a student. For instance, look at these questions and answers. “Why did the lights go out in the storm?” or “ How did the electrical wires get knocked down in the storm?” The answers, “The electrical wire was knocked down in the storm because a branch hit it.” and “A strong wind blew a branch off the tree and it hit the electrical wire which was torn down.” They seem interchangeable except the because is used in response to the why question and how elicits a series of events. Our language learners will shorten their response to, “A branch fell off the tree”, for both questions.
The packet I am posting on Teachers Pay Teachers has 30, 3 inch by 3 inch cards with 3 questions on most cards. In the packer there are 4 cards that deal with how many questions and amounts. 26 cards deal with the variations of how and why listed above. There are 17 cards that also contain a question on vocabulary within the story context. This provides opportunity for students to derive word meanings from the text and verbalize it. You can find them here or by clicking on the picture button at the top of the page which takes you to TPT and also gives a preview.
There are 3 pages of cards for a total of 9. You can see if they are something of value for your students. I have been using them with my 3rd through 6th graders. I try to keep the picture cues meaningful and appropriate for middle school range. I have a lot of boys and they don’t tolerate things that look cute. I make them double sided so they have possible answers available. This helps when I have groups and it is motivating for them to flip them over and see if they got it right.