Practitioner's Shortcuts: Prediction

Posted:24 April 2019

Author: Emily Robinson Leclair, Community Learning Network

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As CALP staff, you are extraordinary multitaskers. You never know who is going to walk through your door and what they might need. As a result, it is nice to have things in your back pocket that work with a variety of learners in any of the five literacy and foundational learning categories, across each of the modes of delivery with little to minimal preparation. This is the second in a series of blog posts highlighting instructional strategies that do just that. Let’s call them Practitioner’s Shortcuts.

As fluent readers we aren’t always aware of the many strategies we use to actively understand what we read. Prediction is a great strategy for reading comprehension and one that we use all the time. Think about browsing the shelves of your favourite book store or library; you are likely to choose books based on the cover images, titles and colours that appeal to you. You are engaging in your own Directed Reading Thinking Activity (DRTA):

  1. Reader chooses a topic that is meaningful to them
  2. Reader makes predictions about the story based on the title and cover image
  3. Reader constantly checks those predictions as they read
  4. Reader confirms that some predictions are correct and others are incorrect
  5. Reader changes predictions and makes new predictions while continuing to read

Predicting is a valuable reading comprehension strategy. Before we start reading, we take some time to make predictions about what the story will be about. Let’s try it virtually:

 Image retrieved from

Image retrieved from

 How to predict:

  1. Look at the title
  2. Look at the cover picture
  3. Use what you already know (activate your prior knowledge)

To begin using this strategy with learners, you will want to model predicting. Here is how I might do that:

When I look at the cover of this book, I ask myself ‘what is this story about’. I think:

  • There is a winter storm
  • I think the storm was a surprise.
  • I think the main character is driving the car.
  • The title of this book is ‘New Year’s Eve’. That makes me think the person (or people) in the car are travelling to a party.
  • Maybe they didn’t have a choice and had to drive through the storm.
  • I think the car is going to get stuck or it might get in an accident.

Predicting lends itself well to one on one, small or large group discussions. Invite learners to share their predictions. Record all predictions on a piece of paper, a flip chart or post it notes.

As you read, reflect back on your predictions. Grassroots Press has a marvellous website that will let us preview Chapter 1 of New Year's Eve here.

After reading a few pages of Chapter 1, we are able to check some of our predictions:

There is a winter storm. It is actually a blizzard
I think the storm was a surprise. It sounds like they knew the storm was coming but they were late leaving. 
I think the main character is driving the car. Grady is driving the car. He is not alone. Dixie and baby Daisy are also in the car. 
The title of this book is 'New Year's Eve'. That makes me think the person (or people) in the car are travelling to a party.  They are driving to see family in Saskatchewan. It is a long trip. They still have 5 + hours to drive after dark.

 While some predictions remain unchecked:

  • Maybe they didn’t have a choice and had to drive through the storm.
  • I think the car is going to get stuck or it might get in an accident.

Chapter 1 also provides us with additional information that can be used to make further predictions or change existing predictions. After reading Chapter 1, I think:

  • Grady and Dixie are stressed. Grady has been working a lot and they have a new baby. Plus, money is tight.
  • Grady is impatient with the baby and Dixie. Dixie is constantly apologizing. I have a feeling that Grady isn’t a good husband or father.
  • It sounds like Grady is a good driver. I think RCMP constables have lots of experience with driving. Maybe there won’t be an accident.
  • I am worried about this family of three out on the highway alone but I don’t think the blizzard is their biggest challenge.

As you read through a book or article, continue to check your predictions. Cross out or remove the predictions that are incorrect and add new ones as you read along.  We can prompt learners to do this by asking:

  • Were your predictions correct?
  • What surprised you about what we have read?
  • Based on what you have read, do you want to change your predictions?
  • What do you think is going to happen next?  

For more explanations and samples of Prediction and Directed Reading Thinking Activities (DRTA) check out these resources on the CALP Portal:

Creating Learning Partners Unit 6: Page 17 includes an explanation of the Directed Reading Thinking Activity along with a sample handout titled Freeze up on the Yellowhead  (Overhead 6.8).

Tutor Tools  Page 17 provides a great example of using a magazine or newspaper article to engage a learner in prediction.

I predict that CALP staff are familiar with this reading comprehension strategy and have great ideas about how to use it. Please share in the comments below! 

Emily Robinson Leclair, CLN
South Regional Support Staff


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