Prediction is an important good reader strategy because it helps students activate their schema (background knowledge). They use their knowledge of the world, story elements, and text features to make an informed guess about what they think will happen next or what they think they will learn. This helps readers set a purpose for reading. It is important to teach students that their predictions should be based on evidence from the text or other background knowledge. Students also need to realize that prediction is not something that is done only prior to reading a text–good readers confirm or adjust their predictions as they read and continue to make new predictions throughout their reading.
To help students begin to internalize the language of strategy use, it is often helpful to give them sentence stems to stimulate their thinking. The following sentence stems can be used to spark students’ ideas during reciprocal teaching dialogue and written responses to literature.
- I think…
- I wonder…
- I bet…
- I imagine…
- I suppose…
- I predict…
Before reading, have students generate a list of words that they predict will be found in the text. During reading, stop periodically to have students make note of words that have appeared in the text and give them an opportunity to add more word predictions to the list.
Source: Revisit, Reflect, Retell by Linda Hoyt, Heinemann, 1999.
Prediction Stroll Line
Have students preview a text and write down several predictions with clues from the text. Divide class into two lines so that each student is facing a partner. Partners share their predictions and clues with each other. Signal one line of students to stroll down to share predictions with the next partner. Repeat several times. Gather students together to debrief. Discuss and list several predictions on chart paper. Return to the chart paper to confirm or adjust predictions after reading.
Adapted from: Reciprocal Teaching at Work: Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension by Lori Oczkus, IRA, 2003.
This activity is useful with narrative text. On chart paper or overhead display a list of 7-10 words that appear in a story. Choose words that relate to the characters, setting, problem, events, and solution of the story. List the words in a column in the order they appear in the story. Have students work in small groups to construct a story using all of the listed words in order. Share each group’s story. Have students read the original story and then compare and contrast their stories with the original.
Source: Guided Comprehension: A Teaching Model for Grades 3-8 by Maureen McLaughlin and Mary Beth Allen, IRA, 2002.
Predict and Support
It is important that students learn that their predictions shouldn’t be wild guesses—predictions should be based on evidence from the text, illustrations, background knowledge, peers’ comments, or a combination of these. To model this, read aloud a selection, stopping periodically to make a prediction. Back up each prediction with evidence. Gradually begin to invite student predictions. As students predict, prompt them to explain their predictions by asking, “What made you say that?” “Can you tell me why you think so?” Encourage them to use evidence from the text to back up their predictions.
Confirm or Adjust
Proficient readers do not just predict before they read a selection. They continue to confirm or adjust their predictions and make new ones throughout a selection. To model this, record student predictions on chart paper during a read-aloud. Stop periodically to ask if their predictions are correct. If so, mark a “C” for “confirm” beside the prediction. If not, mark an “A” for “adjust” and have students generate a new prediction based on new clues. Teach students that it is okay to predict incorrectly as long as they are basing their predictions on clues from the text and as long as they adjust their predictions when evidence from the text contradicts their predictions.
Download Predict-Confirm-Adjust Form
Predicting With the Table of Contents
Have students work in pairs to generate predictions based on the chapter title of the table of contents. Have all pairs make predictions about a single chapter or assign each pair a different chapter. Record on sticky notes or chart paper. After reading each chapter, have students confirm or adjust predictions.
Source: Reciprocal Teaching at Work: Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension by Lori Oczkus, IRA, 2003.