What can teachers do to improve students’ comprehension of content-area text?
Page 10: Introduction to Anticipation-Reaction Guide
One strategy teachers can use to help students document textual evidence while acknowledging multiple perspectives is the Anticipation-Reaction Guide. The Anticipation-Reaction Guide template provides an organizational structure that guides students as they read and analyze the text passage. Teachers can use this guide to:
- Activate students’ background knowledge before reading
- Help them identify textual evidence during reading
- Help them to evaluate their own and one or more author’s perspectives after reading
To prepare the guide, the teacher reviews the curricular materials and identifies key concepts or themes. The teacher then writes down 3–5 anticipatory statements about those overarching principles or themes. Though it can be helpful to focus on somewhat controversial topics, teachers should take care to avoid topics that are particularly politically or emotionally charged within the school or community. Learning about respectful disagreement is productive both for the lesson and for students’ personal growth, but topics to which students have already been exposed to unhealthy disagreement will serve only to distract from the real goal of evaluating textual evidence. Content that does not allow for alternative or competing perspectives is not appropriate for inclusion in an Anticipation-Reaction Guide.
Because true-false statements limit the students’ reading comprehension to the identification of isolated facts, statements included in the Anticipation-Reaction Guide should be phrased as opinions, which have a greater chance to foster the consideration of multiple perspectives. Statements that lack one right answer can lead individuals to cite different kinds of information in either agreement or disagreement. For this reason, the guides are sometimes referred to as opinionnaires. These statements are placed in the first column of the Anticipation-Reaction Guide.
Ms. Forrester, the science teacher from the Challenge video, has prepared a set of statements based on a text passage on tropical rainforests, as shown in the Anticipation-Reaction Guide below.
|Statement||Reader’s Perspective Before Reading||Textual Evidence and Source/Page #||Reader’s Perspective After Reading|
|1. It is regrettable that animals lose their homes when we cut down trees to mine natural resources. However, it is more important that we obtain those natural resources to make the things we want and need to live.|
|2. It is better to eat food that is grown close to your town than to buy bananas grown in South America.|
|3. Because renewable resources like food, sunlight, and water will replenish themselves, we can use as much as we want.|
|4. All paper products negatively affect the environment.|
Students use the guide as they work through three steps:
- Before reading: Identify personal perspectives about the statements.
- During reading: Read, document textual evidence, and consider multiple perspectives.
- After reading: Consider whether the textual evidence warrants modifying or qualifying one’s perspective.
Each of these steps will be discussed in more detail in the following pages.