March 26, 2015

Post-It Note Prediction Activity

I have found in teaching that sometimes half of the ideas that you think are going to just completely flop end up being some of the most enriching classroom experiences.  The experiences where you walk away and you almost say out loud, "Damn...I'm good!"  Although, deep down in your heart the starts collide and for whatever reason, by some miracle flip of the coin, the activity worked out.  I had one of these experiences this week, and this incredibly simple activity is worth sharing and can most certainly be applied to other content areas.

Our current class interactive read aloud is A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.  For those not familiar with the book, each chapter contains a story from Nya, a girl from Sudan in the present day who has to walk half a day just to get a small basin of water for her family.  The rest of each chapter is from the perspective of a boy named Salva, who at a young age was forced to flee into the bush because of an ambush of the Northern Army of Sudan invading his village.  While Nya's story stays in the present tense, Salva's covers the span of his life as he walks hundreds of miles across Sudan, eventually finding safety in a refugee camp, and eventually getting selected to go to America.  After reading the day's chapter, I asked students to write down a prediction about how Salva and Nya, two seemingly unrelated characters besides the fact that they're both from Sudan, stories would collide on a Post-It note.

-Once they were done writing the prediction on the Post-It note, I asked them to stand up and stick the Post-It note on the Smartboard at the front of the classroom.

-Next, I started reading each Post-It note out loud.  It seemed students were falling into two camps: camp one thought Nya and Salva would end up meeting in New York, camp two thought Salva would bring fresh drinking water to Nya's village in Sudan.  As I read each prediction out loud to the class, I placed each sticky note into the category it best fit.

-As a follow-up step, I asked students from each camp to raise their hand and defend their side as to what in the text caused them to make the prediction that they did.

-Finally, students talked at their tables about if they wanted to keep their predictions the same, change it, or tweak it, and why.

The next day when we found out whose prediction was accurate, students erupted.  When I see students that into reading, that excites me.  Activities like this help build this excitement and increase student understanding of the book.

I can see this activity relating to many content areas:
-Science class when making predictions about how an experiment will turn out.
-Social studies when discussing what happened in history.
-Math class when predicting the outcome of a problem.

If you like this idea, try it out, and let me know how it goes in your classroom.  I would love to hear from you.


  1. Do you use a class set of books for your read aloud, or do the students actively listen?

    1. Students actively listen during the read aloud. There are things that I may do with passages of text with close reading or interactive edits that I pull from the reading and have students look at.

  2. After which chapter in the story did you have your students make this prediction? We are halfway through the book and only a couple of my students are realizing the two characters will meet up.

    1. I think I did this activity more toward the end of the book once it's known that Nya's village is getting a well and Salva is going to get adopted by a family in the United States. Possibly after Chapter 15 would be a good place.


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