Strategy Anticipation Guides

Anticipation guides allow students to contemplate their knowledge, beliefs, and experiences about concepts, skills, or strategy application before a unit begins. Students can open their “prior knowledge” files in order connect new learning to their existing schema. Through instruction, knowledge and skills can be revised, reorganized and enhanced. 

“What students already know about a topic may be jumbled, disorganized, and incomplete — and sometimes it can be plain wrong. Anticipation guides…are designed to determine what students know, and are especially effective when they hone in on common misconceptions” (Fisher, Frey & Hattie, 2016).  It is difficult to determine what students bring to the learning without some sort of intentional evidence gathering. In addition to providing some of this needed evidence, “prediction and anticipation guides provide frontloading in preparation to connect new learning” (Buehl, 2017). “As an added advantage, such activities give students clues about what’s coming next and that helps them set a purpose for learning, an important aspect of motivation” (Lent, 2012).

In Strategic Reading (secondary intervention), our comprehension standards are focused on building metacognitive processes needed to make sense of a text.  Our anticipation guides provide opportunities for students to consider how they think about their thinking and provide teachers with evidence of the students understanding, or lack of understanding, in preparation for strategy instruction.    

Our comprehension standards include:  

Activate prior knowledge specific to the text to determine a purpose for reading. Use text and text features to develop logical predictions. Monitor the accuracy of the predictions, analyze textual evidence to adjust.

Generate implicit and explicit questions for a variety of purposes (predict, clarify, wonder); seek answers to questions to deepen comprehension.

Detect signs of confusion, diagnose causes of the confusion & determine effective reading strategies to resolve confusion and improve comprehension.

Read closely to determine essential details to analyze the author’s important ideas and intended themes; synthesize information in a logical structure that maintains the author’s intended meaning.

Following each unit, we find that revisiting the unit anticipation guides allows students to reflect on their own development as a result of their new learning. Opportunities for students to self-assess and self-reflect are considered highly impactful on student motivation and growth (Fisher, Frey & Hattie, 2016).   

Click on the image to follow the link to the anticipation guides we developed for our Strategic Reading comprehension standards. 

Foster Student Self-Evaluation



A few of my 2015-2016 Strategic Readers


I haven’t posted in a while, because like many of you, I’ve been plodding through the second busiest time of the school year.  After the first weeks of school, the next busiest time for me is finals week.  

Even high school reading intervention classes engage in a version of finals. The final in my class has multiple purposes, the least of which is a larger-than-normal notation in the grade book. My focus is on helping my students understand their own growth.  The freshman year is the last opportunity for this type of intervention in this district. The intervention process I proposed for secondary was implemented district-wide in grades 6-9. Since I teach students in the last year of the intervention, I want students to move forward with a grasp of what they have gained through this experience, where they still need to improve, and what they can do to continue to grow.

Throughout each semester, every piece of data produced by the students is kept in their individual files.  This includes strategy lessons, annotated texts, reading reflections, morphology practice and weekly quizzes, reciprocal teaching documentation, exit slips, etc.  All of it is used to help the students develop and apply skills to become better readers, writers, and thinkers and help me make instructional choices for the students.  Intervention instructional decisions are not always clear-cut, but they are made with attention to formative data. Each piece of data contributes to a picture and feeds daily instructional choices.

At the end of a semester, or for some students the end of the school year,  they are asked to analyze the details of this picture to help them develop their own image of their growth.  The end product of the analysis is an essay. The requirements of this essay are consistent with our intervention focus to improve each student’s literacy skills, motivation, and self-perception as reader.  Often the process to construct this final essay is the moment the students finally realize their gains, the impact of their effort, and the changes in how they see themselves and the purpose of the class. 

Below are the  elements students use to prep the essay.   I also linked a couple of essays.  The first sample is from a student (Monica) who doubled typical yearly growth in a semester to earn a grade level score (220) on the MAP. Our goal as a district intervention is to at least double the typical yearly growth in an effort to close the gap. Additionally, Monica’s QRI (Quantitative Reading Inventory) instructional reading level moved to an upper middle school level from the 4th grade level at which she started the quarter.   Monica is also an ESL student who intentionally seeks to expand her use of English vocabulary.  I think her essay shows some of her growth in this area as well. 

In the second sample, the student (Destiny) did double typical growth in the first semester, but dropped in her second semester, and did not meet her overall personal goal or attain a grade level MAP score.  She had a larger gap to bridge and computerized standardized tests produced obvious physical anxiety for her.  So even though the MAP did not show her obvious growth, her QRI scores did.  Destiny also grew from an instructional reading level of 4th grade to an instructional level of upper middle school.  I also found her thoughtfulness about her process to be one of the greatest indicators of development. 

How do you assess student literacy development?  What formative data do you collect to make decisions or assess short-term growth?  What summative or standardized assessments does your district require to determine that students are making adequate progress?

Progress Monitoring: A Student Perspective

Our district is currently progressing through Marzano Instructional Design training during our weekly/monthly professional learning opportunities. I am supporting that process through content professional learning for the district’s literacy instructors.  An element of Marzano’s process that is most useful for intervention is helping students think through their own proficiency with a specific skill or strategy.  Part of the instructional design process requires that students internalize how they are developing with the standards (skills).  Students must understand what the specific learning goal (target) is for the day.  Teachers must be intentionally transparent about what proficiency with the skill or strategy looks like.  

During class a teacher must engage in continuous checks for understanding to monitor student progress during small group, paired or independent learning. At the end of a class, especially when the day’s learning is new, the teacher needs to know how students perceive their success with the new skill/strategy and where they believe they still need help.  We use an exit slip that asks students to gauge their proficiency for the day.  We also ask them to validate their beliefs with evidence from the work we’ve done in class.  We provide them with a guided exit process (shown below) in order to gather good data to make decisions for continued instruction.

Note:  I am privileged to work with a graphic designer turned literacy educator who transforms our work into visuals.  Any full-color posters or visuals in this blog (in this case the target exit slip) are more than likely his design.   His collaboration is invaluable. 

Below are suggestions for using the linked resources:

Step 1: Engage students in the critical content (Marzano vocabulary) to begin the lesson. Activate prior learning connected to the concepts being taught.  Clarify new vocabulary that will be used repeatedly from direct instruction through independent processing. One way to get students thinking is have them write the “target” or goal for the day on the “exit slip” prior to beginning the activating process.

Step 2:  Teach your lesson toward the target. The Workshop Model is effective when teaching strategy lessons in intervention reading.  The “work time” is a blend of guided small group and pairs work leading to individual processing.


Step 3: Ask students to choose the perceived level of proficiency (on a scale 0-4) after the day’s learning process is complete.  They will document the rating on the back of the target exit slip next to “Target Number Achieved.”   It is understood that choosing a number does not result in a specific grade.


Step 4:  Ask students to explain their rating.  We tried this a few ways before deciding the students needed very specific guided support for their responses.  This is still action research from my perspective, but the student responses are now deeper and more useful for adjusting instruction.   (The visual below is linked to a Google Document.)


Step 5:  Use the the responses and the students’ work for the day as data for the next lesson.  If all or a vast majority of your students feel they are at a two and their work reflects that as well,  use that knowledge to take a step back in the lesson and support the student needs.  If only a few students are at a 1 or a 2, use the exit slips and the students’ work to conference with the specific students and repair gaps or misconceptions.  If you have a mix of responses, this data can fuel flexible grouping or station work based on students’ level of development with this skill/target.