Anticipation Guide

Anticipation Guides are useful for getting students to think openly and critically about a topic or reading at the very beginning of a lesson, before any material has been handed out. The form of an Anticipation Guide is merely a list of statements relating to the topic or the material to be covered. These statements can be true or false. Students are given this list of statements and write down whether they agree or disagree with each of them, and why. For an example, I have compiled a list of statements on the Nature of Science, using information from the National Science Teachers Association’s Official Position Statement on the Nature of Science, found here.

On the Nature of Science: 

  1. A primary goal of science is the formation of theories and laws.
  2. A theory can become a law, once it has enough evidence supporting it.
  3. Contributions to science can be made by people all over the world.
  4. With new evidence and interpretation, old ideas are replaced or supplemented by newer ones.
  5. Basic scientific research is not directly concerned with practical outcomes.
  6. Creativity is a vital, yet personal, ingredient in the production of scientific knowledge.
  7. Science depends on testable elements.
  8. Scientific knowledge is simultaneously reliable and tentative.
  9. Science is prohibited from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge.

Many of the statements above are true, and identical to the statements made by the NSTA. Some of the statements are false. The point of the Anticipation Guide is not to get students thinking about what is right and what is wrong about a topic or piece of writing, the point is to get students thinking about what they know and what they want to know. By using Anticipation Guides, teachers can access students’ prior knowledge on a subject before diving into it, and students can identify their feelings, personal interests, and misconceptions on a specific topic before a single word has been read or assignment has been given. Best of all, the Anticipation Guide can also be referred back to as the unit progresses, so teachers and students can reflect back on what they thought at the beginning of the unit, and what the know and understand now.

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Creative Rankings

Creative Ranking allows students to meet and interact with the major themes of a story or lesson before they have even seen a piece of writing or have heard a single lecture. Students are given a list of items (individual plot points, data, concepts, historic events, occupations of characters, ect.) and a set of criteria by which to rank them (personal connection, preference, by timeline, ect.). Each student should complete their ranking individually, without fear of being graded, and should share their decisions with a classmate, peer group, or with the class. The teacher can record the top rankings of the class and keep track of them as the lesson progresses.

I have used Creative Rankings in a high school Environmental Science class in order to introduce students to the evolution of insects. I gave each student a list of 8 groups of insects and asked them to rank each group, 1 to 8, from the earliest to emerge to the most recent:

Dragonflies

Beetles

Ants

Bees

Cockroaches

Cicadas

Flies

Butterflies/Moths

I admit that this was not exactly the most creative application of Creative Rankings, but it was an effective means of getting students to recognize major groups of insects while freely using their own logic and reasoning to place them on an evolutionary timeline. If this exercise succeeded only in getting the students to understand that insects did evolve on a timeline as all other animals on the planet–and did not simply appear all at once in a writhing mass of chitin–then both the students and I are better off for having used it.

My favorite part of Creative Rankings is that it allows students to put information into a personal context before they are formally introduced to it. This personal context serves two purposes. It allows students to identify with the material and become intrinsically engaged with it (a necessity for effective eduction), and it lets the teacher understand the students’ prior knowledge of the topic before the lesson even begins.