Teaching Students to Predict Outcomes

Ideas for Teaching Students to Make InferencesTeaching students the differences between making inferences, drawing conclusions, and predicting outcomes may be one of the most difficult skills to teach.  This series of three posts includes definitions, examples, and activities. 

Predicting Outcomes

A reader predicts outcomes by making a guess about what is going to happen. 

Think about meteorologists, weather forecasters. They predict the upcoming weather on a daily basis. 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. Prediction in literature should be the same. A reader doesn’t simply guess at 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 previous information and compare it to the material being read now.

When information is contradictory, a reader must look at both sides. The reader must evaluation 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.

Ideas for Teaching Students to Predict Outcomes Ideas for Teaching Students to Predict Outcomes

More about Predicting

The reader must examine the facts in a novel or real-life situation to make an inference. 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 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

Ideas for Teaching Students to Predict Outcomes 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.

Ideas for Teaching Students to Make Inferences

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 knowledge you have 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 outcome of the story.

Next continue reading to determine  students’ prediction were accurate. Note, readers may change predictions while reading when more details are revealed. 

A variation of the activity is 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

Ideas for Teaching Students to Predict Outcomes With the Detective’s Notebook Game, players read clues in the detective’s notebook, and figure out what happened by inferring or what is going to happen by predicting. 

Activity #5 – Books

Ideas for Teaching Students to Predict Outcomes

Ideas for Teaching Students to Predict Outcomes


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