Lesson Plan

Sorting the wheat from chaff - Asking WH questions - #WithMathICan

Students will begin to learn how to seperate information by asking WH questions and by mimicking the teachers notes on the board by watching pixar shorts/movies/books/textbooks
James T.
Classroom teacher
Saint Benedict Prep, Chicago, Illinois
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies

While students summarize a favorite movie, they will be forced to work backwards and highlight only the important information. Students will begin to understand the need to determine what is important and what is not by asking "WH" questions and using logical reasoning. By learning from others via discussion and recording those discoveries as they are found, a growth mindset is encouraged by highlighting the construction of knowledge as a group.

English Language Arts
Social Studies
English-Language Learning
Health & Wellness
Grades 3 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Introduction - WH questions

Activity: Investigating

The ability to take notes is critical to student learning. However student typically lack the instruction on how to take proper notes. Notes can help student dissect important information from useless information and can have an impact across different subjects.

The quickest way for students to write great notes is to teach them the WH words

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where 
  • Why
  • How

The goal is to have students begin asking WH qustions and no long "what if" questions. Perhaps even make it a classroom rule, or proceedure. 


2 Example


This next part will be having students find the important information by simply having them answer WH questions. 

For example; 

  • Teacher: "Who has seen the movie, Frozen"?
  • Kids: *Hands raise, perhaps a little "let it goooo" is heard"
  • Teacher: Well, I never did, was it good?
  • Students: Yes
  • Teacher: Well, what happened in the movie? *locate the movie script online and read it in class. The script is super long and Students will cringe by the idea of finishing it.
  • Students: WHAT!? WE HAVE TO READ THAT!
  • Teacher: Of course, well unless someone can tell me what happened instead?
  • Students: *Hands raise

Teacher: Begin by asking WH questions

*Bring up the app - popplet

  •            Begin by asking What is the title of the movie?
  •            Who are the main characters?
  •          What happens in the beginning, what's the        main problem
  •            What happens next....then....after....
  •            How do they solve the problem?
  •            What happens to the bad guy?
  •            How does the movie end?

This whole time you are making a poppplet, mind map about the movie

At the end of the whole discussion, when you have no more WH questions, review it with the students and review it with them. Perhaps allow them to fill in some more minor details that they want to express. But you want to review the notes with your students in the end

3 Review the notes/working backwards


Once you have finished the notes, review it with the students. Once you get to the end, start asking questions in reverse. for example;

So Elsa ran away, why?

Have the students work backwards to justify the information they just gave you. And keep asking WH questions.

4 Practice

Free, Free to try, Paid
Free, Paid

Have students practice taking notes.

Using YouTube, search for "Pixar shorts". These videos are 5-10 minutes long, include memorable characters and are incredibly entertaining.

If you cant use YouTube, read a short story, or have them take notes during Social Studies, Science, Math, English, notes can be used in any and all subjects.

Throughout the video have students take notes, take notes on the board with them. Help them ask WH questions, and work on taking notes. Make sure that they are copying the notes exactly as you are.  

Practice make permanence, if your students are making notes just like you do it clicks so much faster. They will have stronger note taking skills, it also helps them listen to directions.