This lesson is designed to expand students' predicting skills using the Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA) strategy. Predicting prior to reading and refining predictions while reading can help students more easily understand new and unfamiliar concepts. Revisiting text to verify and clarify predictions increases comprehension of the reading material.
For students to be able to use the DR-TA strategy to understand texts, they need to be able to make predictions and read to determine if the predictions are correct or if they need to be modified. Students who do not understand how to make predictions might need to participate in the two previous lesson plans, Predicting: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, and Predicting: Strega Nona using different texts to practice the skill of predicting.
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris Van Allsburg
Start the lesson by engaging students in the problem of the book. Ask them, "What would you do if you had to watch a neighbor's dog that was not well-behaved?" Brainstorm all of the things that could happen in this situation, such as: the dog could chew something valuable, the dog could bite, the dog could run away. Have students make predictions about what this story is about, based on your question.
Tell students that they will make and refine predictions and understand how to use the DR-TA bookmark guide to refine predictions as they read.
Prior to the lesson, write the definition of predict (to tell in advance) on the board, and mark the book with sticky notes at points to stop and make predictions. Below are suggested stopping points.
First stopping point: Mark the end of the page illustrated with Alan and Fritz walking across a bridge.
Second stopping point: Mark the end of the page illustrated with Alan running through the garden gate.
Third stopping point: Mark the end of the page illustrated with Alan talking with Abdul Gasazi in front of the fireplace.
Fourth stopping point: Mark the end of the page illustrated with Alan and Abdul Gasazi standing in front of a group of geese.
Fifth stopping point: Mark the end of the page illustrated with Alan walking toward Miss Hester's house.
The sixth stopping point is the end of the book. You may decide you do not need to mark it.
Distribute one copy of the DR-TA bookmark guide to each student, and introduce Chris Van Allsburg's book The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. Tell students you will show them a new reading strategy that calls for them to make predictions about what they will read and then read to prove those predictions. Review the definition of predict, and review step one of the DR-TA bookmark guide. Ask students, "What do you already know about this subject?" Then ask students what they already know about Chris Van Allsburg. Write responses on the board.
Show the book to students and ask them to look at the title and picture and then to predict what they think the story might be about. Write all predictions on the board without judging the validity of the predictions. Ask students, "Why do you think that? What in the title or illustration makes you believe that will be what the story is about?" To model this activity, share your own prediction with students and explain your thinking and reasoning.
Read to students to the first stopping point. Then ask them to prove or modify their predictions. Ask students, "What do you think now? Can you prove your predictions or do you need to modify them? What do you think will happen next and why? What in the text makes you believe that?" Review your own prediction, and verify or modify it based on the reading. Explain your thinking and reasoning. Make changes to your prediction by marking through it, not erasing it; you will want to revisit your original prediction as well as the students' predictions as the lesson progresses.
Read to the second stopping point. Then ask them to review step three of the DR-TA bookmark-guide, prove or modify predictions, and be prepared to respond. When all students have had a chance to review step three, ask, "What do you think now? Why? What in the text makes you believe that? What changes need to be made to our predictions? What do you think will happen next?" Encourage students to explain their thinking and reasoning as they discuss changes or verifications to their predictions. Mark any changes on the board.
Repeat this process for stopping points three, four, five, and six. Encourage students to refer to the bookmark-guide when at the end of each section and reflect on what they have read.
After students have read the entire text and have been given a chance to verify or modify predictions they made, provide them with the following prompts: "I know I could verify/would have to modify my prediction when I read this: ______ that verified or made me modify my prediction." Discuss the importance of finding and citing evidence in the text to prove or refute their predictions. You may want to divide the class into groups for this discussion. Circulate through the room listening to students' responses.
Review the DR-TA bookmark-guide with students to ensure they understand the DR-TA process. Assign a text at the appropriate reading level and pre-mark several stopping points. Have students write initial predictions in a learning log, journal, or on a piece of paper. Circulate among students as they read to offer assistance and encourage reflection.
As a method of assessing student comprehension of the material, have students write a brief summary of their initial predictions and how those were verified or modified as they read the text. Ask students to cite text as evidence.
Reflection and Planning
For students who need additional practice using the DR-TA strategy, have them repeat this lesson using a different story. If students are struggling with the skill of making and refining predictions, have them repeat a previous lesson on predictions, using different texts.
When students are proficient at using this strategy, have them focus on finding evidence from the text to support their predictions, and encourage them to make predictions independently as they read.