Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Good Readers Make Predictions

How many times have you had the parent of a struggling reader ask you what their child can do to improve?  How do you answer that question?  Have you said, "he should read more often"?  Is that really going to help that child?

I don't think that anyone can argue that reading more will benefit children.  However, if a student is struggling to read, is an inefficient reader, is a frustrated reader, will continuing that trend really help him or her?  Perhaps we should tell students and parents about the strategies that good readers use and suggest that they practice those as they read.

One of the strategies that good readers use is that they make predictions as they read.  If a struggling reader is not making predictions, perhaps it would help to point this out to his or her parent.  Suggest that as they read together, the parent stop and ask probing questions to encourage their child to make predictions.  If the child reads independently, perhaps that parent can ask them what they think will happen next.

Here are some basic question/sentence starters for students who need support in making predictions:

  • Reading __________ makes me think _______________ is about to happen.
  • Maybe this means...
  • I wonder if...
  • This allows me to assume...
  • What do you think the character will do next?
  • I predict/bet/think/guess that __________ because...
  • Since ___________ happened, I think that ________________ will happen next
Encourage your students to annotate their texts with their predictions.  If they need further support, consider using film to help them to make predictions.  You can choose a short film (Pixar's shorts are a great option) and press pause just before a turning point or major event in the plot.  Ask students to predict what is about to happen.  What evidence leads them to believe that?  Struggling students can use the visual cues from film to help them in developing the skill of making predictions, and eventually they can transfer this to their reading.

Food for thought... how do you help your students to make predictions?

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