Essential Questions for Meaningful Conversation in Story Analysis

January 18, 2017 Updated January 15, 2017

What if students from classroom to classroom, one grade level to the next, and from school to school across the United States had a "core" set of questions for meaningful conversation that would apply from early elementary story books to first chapter books to classic novels (i.e., think The Old Man and the Sea).  

Through such recursive application, might it be that they would grow from 'playing the chords' to making the questions their own and applying them with 'a bit of improvisation?' Might it be that such deep thinking, open-ended questions would become a habit of mind?

Check out these "essential questions" and share your thoughts.  

Think about the following "Questions for Meaningful Conversation" for story analysis?: 

1. Who wants what? What are the character's desires?
2. How does the character struggle as a result of her/his desires?
3. What are the personality traits of the character?
4. How does the character view herself/himself?
5. How do others view the character?
6. What do you think about the character's choices?
7. How does the character's personality traits affect her/his choices?
8. What is important to the character? Why?
9. What relationships and objects are important to the character? Why?
10. What do you think about the relationships between characters?
11. What is learned about the main characters through secondary characters?
12. Why did the character act this way?
13. Was it right or wrong for the character to act this way? Why?
14. What did the character get from acting this way?
15. How am I like or unlike the character?
16. How does the character's desires and struggles reveal the author's message?
17. How does the setting put the story in context?
18. How does the setting impact the character and contribute to the mood of the story?
19. How would you describe the type of conflict(s) within the story?
> person against person   > person against self
> person against nature    > person against time
> person against society   > person against fate
20. How does the conflict develop?
21. What actions or events lead to the conflict's resolution?
22. How does the resolution bring a natural, thought-provoking, and / or surprise ending to the story.
23. What enduring understandings or essential questions arise from this story?
24. What are the big themes or lessons learned within this story? What's the gist?
25. How have the lessons learned changed the way I think?

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

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  • Literacy
  • Critical Thinking
  • English Language Arts

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