Last week, I had the honor of teaching 2nd grade students how to make informed (i.e., text-dependent) predictions by strategically previewing an informational text. To determine the objective for this lesson, I visited the classroom prior to the lesson and met with three students for individual reading conferences. Using NWEA data and running record data, the teacher chose a student below, at, and above the class average. They each brought an independent reading book bag.
First, I asked each student to find a nonfiction text they had not read yet.
The first student pulled out a fiction book, Late Kate (Barchers, 2011). I quickly reviewed the difference between fiction and nonfiction and she identified a nonfiction book in her bag. Then I asked her how she previewed a text to figure out what she would be learning about while reading, to make a prediction about what the author would be teaching her. She responded by opening the book and starting to read the first page. This was the book Muscles (Dugan, 2010). I took advantage of another teachable moment and guided the student through strategically previewing a two-page spread. (See image below.) Then I asked her, “What do you think you will be learning about in this book?” She responded, “Kids making funny faces.” She was referring to an graphic with three pictures of children making faces and then an illustration of all of the muscles in a person’s face. Her response was based solely on the pictures and her interpretation of the purpose of the pictures. She disregarded the other information we had learned while previewing.
The second student immediately identified a nonfiction book on family reunions, Our Family Reunion (Barchers, 2010). When I asked her how she previewed a text, she flipped through the pages glancing quickly at the pictures. When I asked her to make a prediction about the topic of the text, she said, “I think it’s about kids having fun and they got different things to order.” The student was mainly making personal connections to the pictures to inform her prediction because this was not the topic of the text. So I turned to the first two page spread in the book and together, we previewed the text – just those two pages (see image below). We read the heading, the first sentence and then looked at the picture and caption as well as a chart with tally marks for where the family voted to have the reunion. Then when I asked her to preview the text, she said, “I think it’s about reunions and you have to vote for it and whoever got the most votes you had to go.” When I asked her where the family had decided to have the reunion, she quickly pointed to the chart and said, “The park.” With a little guidance, this student was grasping how to make an informed prediction – that is a prediction that is text dependent versus based on personal experience. She would need more instruction on how to integrate all the information she previewed into a cohesive prediction.
The third student previewed a short biography, Neil Armstrong: Man on the Moon (Hollingsworth, 2010) in a similar way – but looked a tad more carefully at the pages. We had the following conversation,
Sunday – What do you predict this book will be about?
Student – A man who first walked on the moon.
Sunday – What did you see in the text that made you think that?
Student – I already knew that.
So – again – the student was not making text-dependent predictions.
In just a few minutes with each of these students, I quickly ascertained that they, and probably several other students in their class might benefit from explicit instruction on how to make text-dependent predictions – predictions based on what was actually learned from the text while previewing.
If you think about the Common Core standards for second grade students reading informational text, being able to make an informed prediction will help them with Standards 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9. Making an informed prediction is the beginning of a journey where the student has to sustain attention to the author’s development of information, strategic compilation of facts across a multi-paragraph text. A prediction is more than just “what the topic of a text is” – it’s the topic and the dimensions of that topic a student might be learning about while reading. The dimensions of a topic – where Neil Armstrong grew up, where he went to school, how he worked to learn more, etc. give the topic depth and contribute to an understanding of the theme of the text. If you have an inkling of the topic, then it’s easier to think about the what, who, where, when, why, and how because you know the answers will have something to do with what it takes to plan a family reunion or Neil Armstrong’s working hard to become an astronaut. ETC. BUT the deal is – the students have to use (adequate) information located in the text to make predictions. Relying on personal connections and interpretations of pictures alone, may lead to erroneous predictions.
So next post – the lesson I developed for the second grade class and how they responded.