• Predict or hypothesize as
appropriate from information in
the text, substantiating with
specific references to textual
examples that may be in widely
separated sections of text
One strategy used by good readers is that of predicting. A good reader consid-
ers information he/she has prior to reading to make predictions about what is
going to be read. He/she then reads to determine whether or not the predic-
tions were correct. As more information is provided, predictions are altered.
This process continues throughout the reading of a selection.
Most students are fairly good at making predictions. The question arises con-
cerning the validity of their predictions. Students must be taught that a predic-
tion must be tied to the content of what is being read. Teach students that
they should use information from the text along with their own background
knowledge to make a prediction.
Students also need to provide support for their predictions in writing. This is
often the basis for a short answer or extended response question. It appears
that this is where our students fall down on predicting, so time needs to be
spent helping students learn to provide the textual support for their predictions.
Prediction is one type of inference. More detailed information on teaching in-
ferences can be found in the General Strategies section of this notebook.
The old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” comes to mind when con-
sidering ways to assist struggling readers to comprehend text. Readers’ com-
prehension of a text is enhanced through the use of picture clues. These picture
clues may be in the form of photographs, illustrations, charts, tables or other
Try following these steps:
1. Begin with something that is familiar to students, such as a picture from a
newspaper or magazine that has a caption. Select a picture that shows peo-
ple interacting or reacting rather than a snapshot of an individual.
2. Show the picture to a group of students with the caption masked. Ask the
students to look at the picture carefully for a few minutes and try to mentally
compose an explanation for what is happening in the picture. Instruct them
to look at all areas of the picture for details and helpful information.
3. Depending on the age of the students, have them individually or collectively
write as much as possible to explain what is happening in the picture.
4. Have the student then read the caption and compare it with his/her ideas.
Since captions are intended to be short explanations for pictures or illustra-
tions, the students will usually generate much more text. This reinforces the
importance of pictures as they read and view.
5. Once the students are comfortable with photographs, follow a similar plan for
“reading” illustrations, posters, and graphs. The more abstract the represen-
tation, the more direct teaching is needed.
Degrees of Prediction
While all proficient readers make predictions, some readers seem to predict more explicitly than
others — it’s a bigger part of their reading experience. Their minds actively guess whether two
characters will remain in love, or whether one will win a contest, or what the author intends for
the novel’s outcome. Like dogged detectives, they spend time — even if it’s mere seconds in
their reading process — trying to figure out the mystery of plot. Another reader may allow himself
to be swept up in the plot — “get lost in the book” — and not make any conscious predictions,
though unconsciously premonitions may flicker through his head as he reads.
Whether prediction is a big or small part of your own reading process, you’ll want to model the
strategy so that it’s a deliberate act; students will internalize it to suit their reading style.
Prediction Webs and Charts
Prediction Webs are a visual representation of the literary elements of a story.
Prediction maps are used to chart the comprehension process of prediction and
revision, as the reader confirms, revises or expands predictions throughout the
reading of a selection.
Follow these steps:
1. Using a selection that is at the readers’ instructional level, preview it with the
students. Use the title, cover and illustrations to prompt discussion.
2. The teacher begins the web by writing the title in a cloud shape in the middle
of a plain sheet of paper.
3. The teacher can ask the students for general ideas or ask specific questions
that lend themselves to predictions. Example: What do you think will hap-
pen first in the story. What do you think is happening on this page? Do you
know what that item is called?
4. The teacher writes the readers’ predictions in web style around the perimeter
of the cloud title.
5. The students read to a designated page in the selection.
6. The teacher and the students discuss the story to that point. The teacher di-
rects the students’ attention to the predictions noted on the web. The stu-
dents then confirm which predictions were correct. Together they can dis-
cuss why it seemed likely that a certain prediction might have come true,
and what was different in the story that led to a different outcome.
7. Next, the students revise or expand predictions for the next segment of the
8. This process continues throughout the reading, as the teacher and students
discuss literary elements (characters, setting, plot and themes), along with
story structure (beginning, middle and end) and vocabulary words.
Predicting is a recursive process that occurs throughout reading. We might be-
gin reading by glancing at information from the title, pictures, headings and the
back of the book. This initial information enables an active reader to tap into
available schema and begin to generate predictions about the text. Readers
then read on to determine whether or not their predictions are correct. As new
information becomes available, they reject or confirm their predictions and cre-
ate new predictions. The Changing Predictions chart provides a graphic organ-
izer for students to record their changing predictions.
Name ___________________________________________ Date _____________________
Title of book
Title of Selection: _______________________________________________________
First Prediction Beginning Middle End
Use the cover and prior knowledge to predict
Second Prediction Use the illustrations and chapter titles to predict
Prediction Where Did I Find It?
(What I think will Did it Happen? (page number)
Good readers are able to generate predictions on their own and monitor those
predictions for accuracy as they read. They use prior knowledge of the content
of the text, the structure of the text, and the textual cues to generate predictions
and construct meaning. Prior knowledge enables them to select relevant cues
from the text, which, in combination, helps them generate textually appropriate
Readers should make predictions using any type of text, and they should do so
continually while reading. Predicting helps focus our attention while reading and
gives us a purpose for reading.
Irrelevant or off-the-wall predictions usually occur when readers do not use the
cues in the text to guide the prediction process but rely solely on their back-
ground knowledge to generate predictions. Explicit instruction focused on pre-
diction must be done with students. The Tracking Predictions chart can be used
to help students keep track of their predictions as well as link them to information
in the text.
This strategy gives students the opportunity to work with their peers and make pre-
dictions about a story or section. Because students are sharing their ideas with a
partner, more students will be able to discuss prediction and they will not feel self-
conscious about speaking in front of the entire class. If a students is having difficul-
ties with prediction, partner him or her with someone who is able to do it, and he
or she will have the opportunity to see how the process is done.
First, identify places in the text to stop and predict what might happen next. Then
read the title and first portion aloud and ask what students think the story will be
about. Students should be seated next to partners so they can share their ideas
with each other. This process is repeated throughout the reading. When the end
of the selection is near, stop and ask how students think it will end.
What I predict clues I used to what happened
Show and Not Tell
Show and Not Tell warms up the brain’s “inference coals” and builds the habit of
using clues to create meaning. It is a hands-on and kinesthetic way to hook stu-
dents into the process of making logical inferences during reading by using evi-
dence from the text and background knowledge.
1. Bring unusual or unfamiliar objects into the classroom such as sporting gear,
medical supplies, tools, machine parts, and so on.
2. Show each item, and have students think to themselves about what they infer
that it does and why. Then, have students share their ideas in pairs and, finally,
share as a whole class.
3. Use a two-column chart. Keep track of students’ guesses on one side and their
reasons for each guess on the other.
4. Add a clue, either verbal or visual, such as another item that goes with the one
in question. For example, if the item is a golf ball washer, you might pull out a
golf ball. Have students use the new clue to make another guess about the
purpose of the item.
5. Tell the students what the object is and ask students to describe the process
they used to narrow down their guesses (inferences).
Proficient readers have become accustomed over many years and pages to
automatically recognize key signals in a text. These signals, contained in the left
hand column of the chart on the next page, are academic words and phrases
that help the reader predict the content and type of text coming up. They pre-
pare the reader’s brain to receive certain types of information that will help to
form the main idea. The activity gives needed practice for readers in the recog-
nition and use of text signals so that eventually their use becomes unconscious
1. Teach signal words to students during a mini-lesson or over the course of
studying a long text that contains them.
2. Model how to make a quick note in the margin or on a sticky note when you
encounter a signal word. Then, model how to make a prediction from what
3. Have students practice making predictions and have them share their predic-
tions with partners.
4. You may want to make a poster from the chart on the next page.
5. Optional: For some of the signals, try creating hand gestures to use during
read-alouds. (For example, for the word however, move your arm to the left
and then quickly reverse it to the right.
What’s My Line?
This activity is a fun way to reinforce students prediction skills and interest
students in reading a text. The strategy works for both narrative and exposi-
tory text. Select approximately 8 to 10 short phrases from the text that con-
vey key ideas and write each one on an index card. Write the same words on
four other sets of cards, so that you can divide the class into five groups of
three or four students each. Have each group examine its set of cards and
think about the relationship that might exist between the words. Without talk-
ing to any other groups, each group then writes a paragraph describing what it
thinks the text will be about based on the words on the card. Prior to reading
the text, the groups should read their paragraphs aloud to the class. After
reading the text, have the students determine which group came closest to
predicting its actual content.
For variety, a whole-class version of this activity can also be done. Prepare
enough phrase cards so that each student can receive his own card. Have the
students circulate around the room silently, showing one another their cards
until time is called. You will want to allow enough time so that each student
can see about one-third to one-half of all the cards in the room. Students are
not allowed to make any notes, and must try to remember all the phrases they
saw when circulating. When time is called, ask the students to form groups of
three or four and try to construct a “gist” paragraph using the key words they
remember. The groups then read their paragraphs to the entire class and
compare them for accuracy after reading the text. Students will have fun, will
love interacting with their peers by being up and moving, and will remember
much more of the content.
Guess and Check Logs
Guess and Check Logs are good for predicting the content of fictional texts or bi-
ographies. Have students bring in small, spiral-bound notebooks and divide the
pages into three columns. Ask them to make the first column about an inch wide,
and divide the rest of the page into two larger columns. The first column should
be labeled “Chapter,” the second column “What I Predict Will Happen,” and the
third column “What Actually Happened.” Ask students to write a prediction in
their notebooks prior to beginning each chapter. After they have read the chap-
ter, have them go back and recount what actually did happen in the third column
of the page.
Put 8 to 15 words or phrases on the blackboard or on a transparency. Ask stu-
dents to write a prediction paragraph based on the words on the list. Have
them put the words together and write a “gist” statement predicting what the
text might be about. This exercise increases student interest in reading since
the students all want to test their theories and see how close their predictions
are to the actual text.