To reinforce the idea that good readers ask themselves why a change happened in a text, we practiced thinking about effects and writing "Why did...?" questions. We took our changes, in the past tense, and wrote them verbatim into questions. Then I asked the students to reflect, constructively, on what sounded wrong about the questions. They thought about the rule that "Did steals the past tense" from the other verb nearby. They all worked together to change the other verb from the past to present tense and rewrote their own question to guide them to the cause in the text. Here are some of our questions, about the book Big Al by Andrew Clements, that we wrote together (and students' independent answers):
Why did Big Al (had) have friends at the end of the story?
Big Al had a lot of friends because he saved the fishes.
Why did Big Al (got) get stuck in the net?
Why did the fish (got) get caught?
Why didn't Big Al (had) have friends?
Big Al didn't have friends because he was big and scary...with sharp teeth.
Why did Big Al (saved) save the fish?
Big Al saved the fish because he is nice and they could be his friends.
Why did Big Al (hid) hide in the sand?
Big Al wanted to look smaller so the fish won't be scared so he hid under the sand.
Why did Big Al (wore) wear a disguise?
Big Al wore a disguise because he wanted to be the fishes friends.
Why did the fish and Big Al (became) become friends?