Tell a Tale of Guesswork


Purpose: to use the learning strategy of predicting and storytelling in order to increase reading comprehension

Making predictions before reading is an important transitions skill. For more information about this skill please see the Transitions Integration Framework, page 14.

Source: Based on an activity in Zero Prep by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Materials: a story about a topic that students have some familiarity with

Prep: Choose a few key words from the story and make a copy of a picture that will set the context for the story


  1. Show students the picture that sets the context for the story. Ask them questions about it, such as, “What is happening?” or “Who is this?”
  2. Write the key words from the story on the board.  Ask students which words are new and explain them as needed.
  3. Divide students into groups of three or four. Aim to have roughly the same number of groups as there are paragraphs in the story. Assign students in the group roles: leader, writer, presenter.
  4. Tell students that they will read a story about ______.   Write the story title on the board. Tell the students that first they will guess the story by writing a little bit of it.
  5. Dictate the first sentence of the first paragraph to the first group.
  6. Dictate the first sentence of the second paragraph to the next group, and so on, until all groups have a first sentence.
  7. Each group writes a paragraph that begins with their sentence. Remind students that they can use the key words on the board in their writing.
  8. The presenter from each group shares what they wrote, going in the same order as the original story.
  9. Students read the original story.
  10. Students compare their version of their story to the original. What was the same? What was different? What surprised them?


Note: If there are not enough students for all paragraphs, read the first and last paragraph aloud to the students and assign them to write the ones in the middle.  If there are too many students, assign two groups to write the same type of paragraph. 

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