What is an Anticipation Guide?
An Anticipation Guide is a graphic organizer that allows students to explore major ideas and themes in a text they are about to examine.
- Anticipation Guides ask students to take positions on a series of controversial statements by drawing on their background knowledge and experiences before they encounter a text. They use rating scales or spectrums to express their opinion.
Why use an Anticipation Guide?
In Deeper Reading, Kelly Gallagher suggests using Anticipation Guides to increase student motivation and interest which, he argues, has a direct effect on their comprehension. His argument is supported by research*published in Ontario that shows Anticipation Guides encourage students to explore their prior knowledge about a text/topic. This prior knowledge then acts as a foundation to which students can connect new ideas they encounter.
*An English version of this document is available here, however this version does not include the Anticipation Guide as a strategy. It does, however offer a wealth of practical strategies.
What does it look like in class?
In a grade 7 FLA class, the teacher wanted to use the Guide to explore some of the themes in her historical fiction study of Enfants de la Rébellion. We took thematic topics such as courage and loyalty and made controversial statements like “sometimes, it takes courage to flee” and “it’s important to stay loyal to a cause regardless of the personal consequences." We distributed the guide, asked students to reflect on the statements, and make their thinking visible by marking their agreement with the statement on a scale of 1 (disagree) to 10 (agree).
As we worked through the novel we drew attention to information and ideas that related to the themes explored in the Anticipation Guide.
At the end of the unit, students revisited the Guide and reconsidered their original position for each of the statements. They then marked their (now fully informed) position down. Finally- and here is where the really powerful part of the strategy comes in- they had to justify their final position using specific evidence from the text or their personal experiences (whether the same or different from the beginning) .
To explain his movement from a 4 to a 2 regarding the statement about loyalty (see above), one student wrote:
“I disagree a bit more now because in the book he (a main character) stayed loyal to the cause, but that means that you have to put your family and friends to the side...I would never do that because my family and friends are too important.”
Overall, both the teacher and coach were really happy with the deep thinking shown in the final rating justifications.
When we asked what the students like most about Anticipation Guides this is what we heard:
“I liked it because you get to explain why you switched, you don’t just switch for no reason…”
“And also, like, you had to explain…If you really didn’t understand that much, you got to go back in the book and, then you really understand when you explain it and prove it.”
“I like it because you pick the choice between 1 and 10 and you had to figure it out yourself what you were going to pick for and what you’re not.”
In this particular case, we got a lot of traction with this strategy. In addition to the written product, these prompts lead to some of the best discussion that we had in the whole novel study!
Other examples Black Gold teachers have tried:
The Anticipation Guide strategy has been used by a few other Black Gold teachers and their grades 7 to 9 students:
- In Social Studies/Language Arts 8, students studied the novel I am David by Anne Holm to hone their geographical and historical thinking skills. An Anticipation Guide prompted students to think about what life was like for David (the main character of the novel), as well as issues related to social justice, government, and worldview.
- In an FLA 9 class, students used a Guide to explore how their personal values relate to those presented in the popular Francophone song Les Vieux Chums, by Jonathan Painchaud.
The Anticipation Guide allows students to explore and revise their understanding of controversial issues and topics. This strategy worked really well for us, and we would love to hear how you're using it in your classroom!
By Michael Skoreyko and Terra Kaliszuk