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Helpful Predictions vs. Not

“That’s not enough,” I said.

The students’ mouths dropped open.

The look on their faces said “Whaaat???”

We’d just watched the first dozen seconds of the San Diego Zoo video “Baby Elephants.” I’d paused the video and asked them to make a prediction. “Based on the introduction, what do you think you’ll be learning about in this video?” They’d responded quickly and confidently with “Baby elephants!”

They were stunned by my response.

“’Baby elephants is not enough. What do you predict you will be learning about baby elephants? What did you hear the narrator say? What images did you see? Your predictions can guide you in making sense of a video and determining what is important.”

Have your students thought about what makes a prediction helpful?

Which prediction is more helpful?

  1. The video will be about baby elephants.
  2. The video will be about how baby elephants interact with other elephants and what they eat.

In my opinion, the latter is a prediction that will better serve the student as she continues reading-viewing-listening to the source.

Why make an informed prediction?

Informed predictions –

  • heighten our awareness of the information we’re learning from a source
  • help us determine what’s important in a source or what we need to notice
  • activate background knowledge we can continue to tap as we finish reading-viewing-listening to the source.

A student making an informed prediction about the video “Baby Elephants” might engage in this kind of thinking as she watches the rest –

“Yes! The narrator is talking about how the mother elephant takes care of the baby. I predicted that. So what am I learning about that? The mother watches over the baby just like human mothers do.”

“Oh, wow. The narrator is talking about how quickly the baby elephant learns to walk. I hadn’t predicted that. What’s important about this part then?”

Do your students need a few lessons on making informed predictions? Check out other blog entries I’ve written on this topic:

Back to the “Baby Elephants” lesson. The students and I watched that first dozen seconds a couple of time and collaborated to make a stronger prediction. Oh, boy! Their eyes light up as they watched the video and noticed details related to their predictions! This gave our discussion afterwards, about what they’d learned, a lot more energy.

If you have the new edition of Close Reading of Informational Sources – check out pp. 71-80 which includes:

  • assessing students’ predictions,
  • tips for conferring,
  • making predictions with video and infographics.

Hope this helps.


UPDATED 2/26/2021

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