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Building Stronger and More Engaged Readers via Making Predictions

A wealth of reading research shows that making predictions about what one is reading is an essential reading skill. It fosters engagement in reading as well as a closer examination of what one is reading. Unfortunately, many teachers and reading experts focus on this skill with elementary students only and/or solely with stories (fiction). Readers across the age spectrum and content areas need to engage in making predictions as they read. One strong way of doing this is to create a problem that is addressed within a given text (also known as "problem perspectives").


It is important to keep in mind that virtually all texts that students will read explain how to solve problems. Math is all about finding out solutions to problems; science describes approaches to and explanations of complex concepts and issues (problems that needed to be solved); history describes how people and societies have dealt with the problems they faced; the characters one encounters in language arts texts have problems that they need to solve. The point is that almost all texts worth reading address problems. You, the teacher, should define those problems and reverse-engineer the text to engage students in doing likewise.

The attached Prediction Chart is a graphic organizer one can use to help engage students in making predictions. On the chart, students write down predictions as they read. Ideally, teachers will model the process before assigning it to students. A good text for doing this with secondary students (and in ELA contexts) is the first page of Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Note that it is important to engage students with predictions prior to reading, while reading, and after reading the text. The teacher and her/his students should review the predictions post reading to deconstruct where people went astray in their predictions. Where one student made a false prediction is likely where others did as well. In a spin-off of this idea, teachers may take up students predictions and read them aloud and/or compare them to show students what their peers predicted. This can be a sort of competitive game.

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