The start of the school year is a great time to informally assess whether our students are making informed predictions about the informational texts they are reading–predictions that will move them forward in understanding the author’s big ideas.
What do I mean by “informed”? Check out this Scholastic News article – Invasion of the Drones.
If you handed this to a student and asked them to make a prediction about what the text will be about, how many of your students would say the following:
It’s about drones.
It’s about the invasion of drones.
It’s about some army guys flying a drone.
Or how many of your students would say something like the following:
Well, when I read the title it made me think there are going to be more and more drones. And when I read the deck underneath the title, I realized that there might be some cool things you could do with drones like deliver pizzas, but there might also be some problems. Then I also noticed that one of the subheadings is the word “safety.” So I think that the author is going to talk about all of the things we are doing with drones and then some of the problems with drones.
The latter response is a prediction that is informed by information the student gleaned by looking at the features and thinking about what she will be learning about. This prediction is going to carry this students forward to better understanding of the text.
Need a quick way to assess?
- Hand out an article (like the one about drones) or ask the students to access one online and then ask them to preview the article and jot down their predictions on a small piece of paper.
- After they are done, ask them to add a sentence or two about how they figured this prediction out. What makes them think the text will be about this?
- Gather and analyze. What does the student’s prediction reveal about their skill in making informed predictions? You might consider the following:
- Does the student just restate the title of the article?
- Does the student write a prediction that is not based on evidence in the text?
- Does the student only rely on photos to make a prediction versus using infographics, subheadings, captions and so forth?
- Does the student use the photo and even the title, but clearly misunderstands what the article is going to be about?
If the answers to the above questions are mostly “yes,” you may need to lead a few lessons focused on helping students preview the text to make informed predictions. If you know me, you know what I’m going to suggest next–use the THIEVES, HIP, or TELL mnemonics to help students get started.
The following blog entries (that I’ve written in the past) explain introducing THIEVES (Manz, 2002).
And here’s an easy bookmark created by my colleague Meghan Duermit!!
Hope this helps!