"What's This All About" Making Predictions Using Background Knowledge

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Students will use context clues and background knowledge to determine the plot of a story.

Big Idea

Students will recognize that making connections between text and self can help you better understand the main idea of a story.


10 minutes

As the year has progressed, students have been delving into reading, having great discussions and even responding very well to the literature we're reading by making connections between text to text. So I wanted to work on students making connections to self based on background information and using context clues. I decided to take a new twist on Making Predictions before you read and intertwine picture walking and making an educated guest. Armed with sticky notes, I told students that they were going to take a picture walk through a new story we would be starting this week. Students had to use special codes to mark parts of the illustrations that jumped out at them and helped them make a prediction. We discussed the codes first as I posted them on the Smart board. Students were instructed to put a smiley face on any illustration that they liked. They put an exclamation mark on any picture that made them say WOW! If they saw something interesting, they put a cloud. Each sticky note posted had to be explained in a brief sentence. After the picture walk, students had to say what they thought the story was about based on their walk. Students were asked to share their sticky notes and predictions.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

After the discussion I told students that they had just made a prediction based on background knowledge they gained from taking a picture walk. Like scientist do when they make a hypothesis." Next, I had students take a look at the following words from the story "The Harvest Birds" by Blanca Lopez de Mariscal :

borrow, ashamed, advice, serious, patch, harvest,  borders, and separate.

I asked students to tell me what these words made them think of based on their picture walk and what they may already know about the words and their meanings."

Students talked about the words and made some connections.

I wanted students to take the words and use what they knew about their meaning and choose the correct word to complete sentences from the story. The outcome I was looking for was for students to use all of the back ground information they had gathered and their own knowledge of the words and their meanings,  to adjust their predictions and get as close to determining the plot of the story.

As we began, I told students I wanted them to work with their group to complete each sentence with the correct vocabulary word. I reminded students to use their background knowledge about the words and the context clues in the sentences to help choose the correct word. I also reminded students that as they are reading the sentences, remember that the words and sentences come from the story and to think about how these sentences can relate to what the story is about.

Students worked in groups, discussing the words, and trying to determine which words completed each sentence. Each group had a set of words on small cards and set of sentences so they could try the words in the sentences to see which made the most since. Because this was supposed to be a student directed learning experience, I walked the room and listened in on discussions, making comments here and there, but mostly allowing students to approach the task on their own. Solving their own problems or clarifying confusions on their own based on their prior knowledge.


Independent Practice

10 minutes

After we went over students results and made corrections where needed with the words and the sentences, I asked students to re-read the sentences and then look at their first prediction. I asked students to make any changes to their prediction they felt they should based on the results of the activities. 

Afterwards, I had students compare their predictions to what actually happened in the story.

Students read the story and then compared their predictions to the actual plot of the story. Many students were surprised to see that their predictions were close to what really happened in the story.

Wrap Up

20 minutes

During this part of the lesson, we discussed students' predictions and compared them to the true events in the story. Most students predictions were very close to the plot of the story. those that were not, were able to explain why they were not. We also talked about how using background knowledge and making predictions before you read, can help you better understand what you've read.  Through the discussion, I was able to assess whether students understood how the background knowledge and using what you know not only helps you make good predictions about plot, but also, gives you something to anchor your reading to which helps you better comprehend what you've read.

Next I asked students how they thought using background knowledge to determine what a story is about.

I also asked students how making a prediction before you read help them better understand what you were reading?

ng, I usually just read the words, but I was thinking about my prediction while I was reading."

After our discussion, several students shared their comparisons with the class.