Teaching students the differences between making inferences, drawing conclusions, and predicting outcomes may be among the most difficult skills. This series of three posts includes definitions, examples, and activities.
A reader predicts outcomes by making a guess about what will happen.
Think about meteorologists and weather forecasters. They predict the upcoming weather daily. The forecasters don’t simply guess what the weather will be. They have advanced equipment, which takes a lot of training to learn how to read. Predictions in literature should be the same. A reader doesn’t simply guess what might happen but should factor in all the events and think through them logically before predicting what will happen next in the story.
For readers to predict outcomes, they must —
- look for the reason for actions
- find implied meaning
- sort out fact from opinion
- make comparisons – The reader must remember and compare previous information to the current material.
When information is contradictory, a reader must look at both sides. The reader must evaluate the situation from both sides to predict an outcome.
Predicting Outcomes Hook Activity
Take photos of objects showing only a small close-up area. Have students make predictions of what the object might be. After students make guesses, show a second photo of the entire object. Have students determine if their predictions were correct.
Wiki Commons provides hundreds of great photographs. Here is an example.
More about Predicting
To infer, the reader must examine the facts in a novel or real-life situation. Here is an example.
Bill walks into the Verizon store wearing a wet bathing suit. He carries his iPhone in his hand. The screen is cloudy with condensation. A drop of water falls from the iPhone to the floor.
You can infer that Bill most likely damaged his iPhone by dropping it in the water while swimming. He is in the store to get it repaired. These are facts drawn from the information provided.
Activity #1 – Brochure Fold Graphic Organizer
Go over the definitions and examples of predictions using this FREE foldable organizer. Click here to download the pdf file. Be sure to collect all three.
Activity #2 – Animated Short from Pixar
This animated short film from Pixar follows Big Buck Bunny through a day in his life. During the day three rodents amuse themselves by harassing helpless creatures by throwing fruit, nuts, and rocks at them. After a while, Big Buck Bunny has had enough. He uses a variety of traps to trap the rodents. Be prepared to pause the video to ask students to predict what is going to happen.
Activity #3 – Stories without Endings
A prediction is a reasonable or logical guess about what might happen next in a story. Predictions should be based on facts or details in the text. Using your knowledge of the material presented may help you make correct predictions.
Read the beginning of a story. Stop before the ending and ask students to predict the story’s outcome.
Next, continue reading to determine whether students’ predictions were accurate. Note that readers may change predictions while reading when more details are revealed.
A variation of the activity is to collect a group of short stories. Cut the endings off the short stories and glue them on cards. Next, read one short story at a time to the class. Have the students find the correct ending from those provided and match it to the story.
Activity #4 – Online Game to Help Students Predict Outcomes
Activity #5 – Books to Help Students Predict Outcomes
- What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins
- Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by Willian Steig
- Tuesday by David Wiesner [wordless adventure]
- A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History by Lynne Cherry