Prediction – students think about what they expect to see or hear before consuming a text of some kind.
Prediction is a simple but effective strategy that teachers commonly use at the beginning of new activities or when introducing new texts. Teachers can ask students to think about what they ‘think’ an answer might be, how they ‘might’ solve a problem, or what the end result of a project ‘may’ look like. Prediction is sometimes nothing more than a guessing game or a brainstorm-type activity where students list out all possible outcomes. When introducing a text such as a short story, teachers usually ask students to predict what will happen before reading it. At least some information must be known to make this prediction, such as the title or graphics on the front cover.
Prediction is a powerful strategy as it provides a gateway to help students access a text. As students read or view a text, they search for details to confirm or disconfirm their predictions.
Teachers can have students make predictions by asking questions or providing an advanced organiser of some kind (such as a KWL chart). A range of different questions can be posed depending on the learning goals of the lesson or program and the students’ abilities. In early childhood, students read for reasons such as leisure, developing oral and listening skills, vocabulary expansion, word familiarity, learning phonics, and social skills development. These reading goals predicate questions about plot, characters, words and sounds.
High school students read to improve their comprehension skills, for specific information such as facts, to broaden their experiences and knowledge, to deconstruct a text, or for critical analysis (see the critical literacy strategy later in this book for more details). High school teachers may ask questions about spelling and vocabulary, as well as more advanced questions related to themes, concepts or ideas, selection of detail, imagery and point of view. Pre-reading activities such as prediction are just as important to the development of critical literacy skills as the actual reading or viewing (picture books) of the text.
Prediction is a powerful strategy as it provides a gateway to help students access a text. As students read or view a text, they search for details to confirm or disconfirm their predictions. This improves comprehension and increases on-task behaviour – students are eager to know whether their predictions were correct. This strategy also helps the teacher to link the lesson’s goals to the text by requiring students to read for a specific purpose. For example, suppose the lesson’s goal is to learn about how authors use stereotypes to construct characters. Students could make predictions about the characters based on the front cover and title. While reading, they could record as much as they can about each character. Afterwards, the teacher could ask whether their predictions were accurate and link back to the goal of the lesson: ‘were your predictions correct? Was it because the characters were generic stereotypes?’
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and an author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of Fast Track Training Australia, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
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