Scaffolding Predictions

The The Language of Learning document that I shared in an earlier post defines the common language that learners use to create meaning of difficult content across all disciplines. Naming that language makes it possible to capture learning in print – to make it visible for our students.  Within the categories of language, there are concrete, developmental stages for growth that can lead a learner to deeper understanding of content.  This post will explore the category of “Prediction.”  I will share a strategy that pushes learners to rigorous use of the language of predictions.

Learners need strategies in order to manipulate the Language of Learning. Our role is to help our students to

  • expand their repertoire of strategies.
  • expand the language they use within a strategy.
  • push them to more rigorous use of the language.

The ultimate goal of strategy-based instruction – 1) to exit the strategy with an understanding of the text/content the learner did not have prior to using the strategy – to create an “aha” moment and 2) to determine which strategies accomplish these moments of insight so learners can intentionally implement the strategy when they are “stuck.”

First, let’s examine the developmental levels of the language of Predictions:

Target 1 Make realistic predictions.
Target 2 Make realistic predictions supported by text, life experience, or knowledge base.
Target 3 Confirm, revise, or reject predictions based on evidence and understanding of content.
Target 4 Apply confirmed predictions in order to extend understanding of content.

Whether you are a preschooler predicting what will happen next in a storybook or a math student using predictions to understand mathematical rules, this language applies.  However, too often we ask for the prediction and insist on evidence to support it, but forget to return to that prediction in order to push learners to a Target 3 level of thinking.  This strategy provides a visible, structured look at what it means to make predictions at all developmental levels:

Prediction (Target 1) Evidence to support the prediction (Target 2) Confirm, revise, or reject (Target 3)

 Target 4 Reflection:  Highlight one idea in your chart that helped you understand something about the text/content that you did not understand the first time you read that section of the text (or explore that problem).  What do you understand now that you did not understand before making and analyzing your prediction?

Without the Target 4 reflection, the strategy remains a homework assignment – what students often see as busywork.  However, by providing opportunities for process reflection, learners can begin to appreciate predictions as a way create meaning of text – as language that will help them navigate difficult content.

My practice:  Before my Freshmen English students begin a novel (or a short story), we begin by making Target 1 predictions based on any information available to us – the title, the author’s name, front  and back covers, table of contents, copyright date, etc.  These predictions include Target 2 evidence.  After reading several chapters of the novel (or pages of the short story), I return their chart and they add information in the Target 3 column and then reflect on all the information on the chart in order to respond to the Target 4 reflection questions.

Here is a full-size copy of the above prediction chart:  using-predictions-to-understand-text

Future posts will share strategies that support the developmental nature of the other categories in the Language of Learning.