Predictions seem like such a simple thing. You might assume that students already know what they are so why teach it, right? I mean, they’ve learned about it since kindergarten and they’ve probably heard and used the word hundreds of times by third grade. But, in the spirit of metacognition, it is important to spend a week on this concept so that students name and notice it in their thinking and practice making predictions so they can anticipate what might happen next in a story.
I like to spend a sufficient amount of time on each strategy to allow for an introduction, modeling, scaffolding, independent practice, assessment, and reflection. Therefore, I spend approximately 1 week on each strategy and follow a similar instructional routine. This is day 1 of Predictions Week – Introducing the Strategy.
Connection: I always start by connecting today’s lesson to something kids have previously learned so that it triggers their schema and background knowledge. Since this is the first they are learning about Predictions this year, I make a connection to our Read Aloud stories that we have read together. I tell them that when we are in the middle of a book, I love the moment when something big is about to happen and the whole class lights up and takes a collective breath in anticipation. I can tell at that moment that students are predicting what will happen next. I tell them that it’s easy for me to notice when they are making Predictions and now it’s time for them to notice when they are doing it.
Teaching Point: This is when I tell kids explicitly what we will be working on. I say, “This week, we will be focusing on making Predictions, which are guesses you make based on clues in the text.” Show them the Predictions anchor chart. I tell them that they make predictions all the time, both in books and in real life, and I want them to become more aware of when it is happening.
Active Engagement: This is where students get to try out the strategy that I just taught them. I choose a page from a new book that we’ve never read before and begin reading it to them. I stop at a pivotal moment on the page, when I see their wheels turning, and ask them to make a prediction. I give them a minute of thinking time then tell them to turn and talk to their partners. After a few minutes, I tell the students to turn back and then call on a few to share their ideas.
Link to Ongoing Work: During this portion of the mini-lesson, I give the students a task that they will focus on during Independent Reading time. Now that I’ve introduced Predictions, I tell them that when they are reading today, their job is just to notice the Predictions that they are making while reading one of the books in their browsing boxes. I explain that Predictions should not just happen at the beginning of a book or chapter, rather they should be happening throughout the book at any point. At the end of Reader’s Workshop, they will meet with their assigned reading partner to discuss what they noticed. I remind them that I will randomly choose a few students to share so that they make sure to complete their task.
Transition Time: Every day after the mini-lesson, students get 5 minutes of Prep Time to choose new books (if needed), find a comfy spot, use the bathroom, and anything else they might need to do to prepare for 40 minutes of uninterrupted Independent Reading. I set it up that way so that students have no reason to get out of their spots. They are expected to have 5 books in their browsing box at all times so if they finish a book they have others to choose from without moving around the room. They are also expected to have a pencil and sticky notes in their browsing boxes in case they need them for the day’s task. I strongly encourage them to use the bathroom so they do not need to go during reading time. At the end of the 5 minute Prep Time, I do a countdown, 5 4 3 2 1, Level 0 (referring to volume level). By the end of countdown, students must be in their spots and silent with all of the materials they need to sustain their reading. They must follow the distance rule of arm’s length apart from any other student. They are not to get out of their spots for any reason so that they can focus on their book and their task. Because I use Independent Reading time to work with students one-on-one or in small groups, I really stress to the students that the teacher is not available to everyone during this time. I encourage them to problem solve on their own and hold all questions or comments until the end of Independent Reading time. All of this takes practice but once it is all in place, Independent Reading becomes a magical time when students are engrossed in their books and the teacher is free to meet individual needs of students through conferencing, strategy groups, or guided reading.
Guided Practice: Today, I would be conferencing with students right at their comfy spots and asking them to explain the Predictions of the book they are reading. This is also when I could pull students for assessments, one-on-one reading, strategy groups, or guided reading groups.
Closing: At the end of 40 minutes, I remind students that their job during reading time was to notice the Predictions they were making in their books. I ask them to repeat the term, Predictions. Then I ask them to meet with their reading partner to share what they noticed about Predictions. I also pose the question, did their predictions come true? After partners have had a chance to share with each other, I ask a few students to share with the class. I then tell the class that we will focus on Predictions for the rest of the week. Reader’s Workshop has come to an end so students put their browsing boxes away and make sure the library is neat and organized.