You for Youth logo
Online Professional Learning and
Technical Assistance for
21st Century Community Learning Centers

The Value of Good Questions

The next best way is to ask students questions about what they are reading. Comprehension questions can help you identify students who read the words well, but have difficulty creating meaning from the text. Have students read a text silently, and then ask them questions about what they read.

These questions should range from literal, knowledge-based questions to higher-order questions that require students to make inferences, synthesize information, analyze, evaluate and make judgments. Pay attention to the question level at which the student seems to break down. Also pay attention to whether students can answer the questions without referring back to the text, whether they periodically look back to the text or whether they have to reread the text to answer any question. 

Click on each traffic light color to explore question stems to ask students during reading:


Red Light yellow Light Green Light

Red Light Questions: “Not There”

Readers need to “stop” to answer red-light questions. The answer is not in the text.

  • What do you think will happen next ___________? Why do you think so?
  • What would happen if __________?
  • Do you think _________ was good or bad, right or wrong, and justified or unjustified?
  • Do you agree with the actions, decision or choices of __________?
  • If this was being told from ____________'s point of view, how would it change?

Yellow Light Questions: “Here and There”

Readers need to “slow down” to answer yellow-light questions. Readers need to think and search or put together different parts of the text to answer the question.

  • Why___________?
  • What caused __________?
  • How are ____ and ____ alike? Different?
  • Tell me in your own words __________?
  • What happened first, second and third ____________?
  • What is the character _________ like?
  • How do you think _________ was feeling?
  • What is the main message or idea of this text?

Green Light Questions: “Right There”

Readers can “go” right to the text to answer green-light questions. The answer is in one place in the text.

  • Who___________?
  • What__________?
  • Where_________?
  • When__________?
  • How____________?
  • What does _________mean?

My Notebook


The Notebook is a useful way to jot down notes as you go through the various topics available on the You For Youth website. If you'd like to use the notebook, please sign in if you already have an account or register now to join the Y4Y community!