One of the signs a child is having problems with reading comprehension is trouble making predictions. This, according to Dr. Sally Shaywitz in her book, Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Overcoming Reading Problems at Any Level. When a student makes a prediction he or she is making a guess about what is going to happen next in a story or what a character is going to do or think, An effective reader will base their prediction on clues from the story and his or her own experiences. Most typical students naturally make predictions as they read. Students with dyslexia may have trouble with this important skill.
Why Students with Dyslexia Have Difficulty Making Predictions
We make predictions every day. We watch our family members and based on their actions we can often guess what they are going to do or say next. Even young children make predictions about the world around them. Imagine a young child walking up to a toy store. She sees the sign and even though she can't yet read it, because she has been there before she knows it is a toy store. Immediately, she begins anticipating what is going to happen in the store. She is going to see and touch her favorite toys. She might even get to take one home. Based on her previous knowledge and clues (the sign on the front of the store) she has made predictions about what will happen next.
Students with dyslexia may be able to make predictions based on real-life situations but may have problems doing so when reading a story. Because they often struggle with sounding out each word, it is hard to follow the story and therefore can't guess what is going to happen next. They may also have a hard time with sequencing. Predictions are based on "what happens next" which requires a student to follow a logical sequence of events. If a student with dyslexia has problems sequencing, guessing the next action will be difficult.
The Importance of Making Predictions
Making predictions is more than just guessing what is going to happen next. Predicting helps students become actively involved in reading and helps to keep their interest level high. Some of the other benefits of teaching students to make predictions are:
- Helps students to ask questions while they are reading
- Encourages students to skim or re-read portions of the story to better understand it or to recall facts about the characters or events
- Provides a way for students to monitor their understanding of the material
As students learn predictions skills, they will more fully comprehend what they have read and will retain the information for longer periods of time.
Strategies for Teaching Making Predictions
For younger children, look at the pictures before reading the book, including the front and back covers of the book. Have students make predictions on what they think the book is about. For older students, have them read the chapter titles or the first paragraph of a chapter and then guess what will happen in the chapter. Once students have made predictions, read the story or the chapter and after finishing, review the predictions to see if they were correct.
Create a prediction diagram. A prediction diagram has blank spaces to write down the clues, or evidence, used to make a prediction and a space to write their prediction. Clues can be found in pictures, chapter titles or in the text itself. A prediction diagram helps students organize the information they read in order to make a prediction. Prediction diagrams can be creative, such as a diagram of a rocky path leading to a castle (each rock has a place for a clue) and the prediction is written in the castle or they can be simple, with clues written on one side of a paper and the prediction written on the other.
Use magazine ads or pictures in a book and make predictions about people. Students write down what they think the person is going to do, what the person is feeling or what the person is like. They can use clues such as facial expression, clothes, body language and surroundings. This exercise helps students understand how much information you can obtain from being observant and looking at everything in the picture.
Watch a film and stop it part way through. Ask students to make predictions on what will happen next. Students should be able to explain why they made the prediction. For example, "I think John is going to fall off his bike because he is carrying a box while he is riding and his bike is wobbling." This exercise helps students to follow the logic of the story to make their predictions rather than just make guesses.
Use "What would I do?" techniques. After reading a portion of a story, stop and ask the students to make predictions not about the character but about themselves. What would they do in this situation? How would they react? This exercise helps students to use previous knowledge to make predictions.
Robb, Laura, "Reading Clinic: Use Predictions to Help Kids Think Deeply About Books," Scholastic.com, Date Unknown
Shaywitz, Sally. Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Overcoming Reading Problems at Any Level. 1st. Vintage, 2005. 246. Print.