What happens next? Introducing prediction strategies
Wednesday, January 03, 2018
As a proud Jersey Girl born and reared on the very South Jersey shore, I have "sand in my shoes" — a saying about those of us whose hearts remain in our ocean communities no matter how far-flung our travels or for how long we roam. We always return.
I don't know what my first words were, but I wouldn't be surprised if, right after "mom" and "dad," I said "seafood." I've eaten so much over the decades that I'm surprised I haven't grown gills, fins or claws.
It was no surprise, then, that when I was looking for a video to introduce prediction strategies to my Korean low-intermediate/intermediate EFL reading and writing university students, I chose the animated "Trouble in Paradise" (see video above), starring Crabby, a darling, naive, orange crab who lives on a tropical island.
Poor Crabby. Living a relaxed life on a lovely tropical isle awash in sunlight and surrounded by lulling ocean waves, Crabby's idyllic world is disturbed by an initially frightening and bewildering interloper: a coconut has fallen from a tree while Crabby is digging out of his underground lair.
Crabby hears the thud and, startled, emerges to see the round, brown, hefty, hairy creature not far from him. Of course, antics ensue as Crabby makes heroic efforts to evict his unwanted guest.
In earlier classes, students had practiced other strategies, including reading titles and subtitles and subheadings for clues. Likewise, I had introduced students to making inferences (as I wrote about in November), and they had watched a video as part of that lesson.
For homework designed to prepare students for examining and practicing making predictions, I asked students to think about what the phrase "trouble in paradise" means, and they were to write their responses. Then, I asked them to watch "Trouble in Paradise," but instead of watching all the way through, as they had with the video on inference, I asked them to watch the video in increments.
After each increment, I asked them to predict what would happen next. When the video ended, students were to write their predictions about what Crabby would do each time a coconut fell.
From their answers, we had a spirited discussion, and I insisted that students ground their answers in evidence from the video. Some students believed that Crabby would continue his Herculean efforts to rid his bucolic island of every round, brown, hefty, hairy intruder.
Others believed that Crabby would eventually realize the trespasser was innocuous and expending such prodigious effort to rid his sandy home of the alien just wasn't worth it. The more Crabby exhausted himself, the less he was enjoying his life in his halcyon home. Still others suggested that Crabby would eat future fallen coconuts.
Following our discussion of the video, we looked at the rest of the homework:
There is a family with nine children, and each child is busy. Below there is a numbered list of the children and what they are doing. What is the name of the ninth child? Circle your answer from these choices:
Moriah Kate Sylvester Rodrigo Iolana Lisa Kalare Matthew Jaqueline
- Andy is ironing some white shirts.
- Bill is cooking rice and chicken for dinner in the kitchen.
- Carol is playing football with her friends.
- Danny is playing chess near the window.
- Eddy is cleaning the second-floor bathroom.
- Faye is listening to a podcast on her phone.
- Gloria is sleeping in her bedroom.
- Hannah is studying physics at her desk.
Most students didn't have an easy time with this one. Many were distracted by the children's activities, and some responded not only with a name, but also with an activity, both of which gave us the opportunity to work on focusing on what is being asked.
It took a bit of time to identify the pattern (the first eight letters of the English alphabet: ABCDEFGH) and the answer, Iolana. But once the struggling students saw the pattern, they were delighted.
Because a number of students are studying engineering or design, I created the next prediction question:
What do you predict comes next in this list? Explain your answer. 12, 24, 48, 96, 192, 384, ______
Students had no problem answering this question or explaining their answer.
And finally, I combined an inference and prediction question:
Minji saw Langi on campus. Langi's face was red, and she was sweating and drinking from a large bottle of water. She held a basketball under her arm, and she was wearing shorts, a T-shirt and sneakers. Minji inferred that Langi had been _____________________. Minji predicted that Langi was going to ___________________ next.
Again, students had no problem answering these questions: Langi had been playing basketball, and she was heading home to shower and eat.
Crabby's paradisiacal adventures — directed, cleverly animated and edited by the inventive Shane Collins — are four in a series, so teachers have others from which to choose. My students giggled while watching Crabby and his shenanigans and were giddy when I did my Crabby imitation.
They were proud when they successfully discerned a couple prediction conundrums and appreciative of the alphabetical pattern revelation.
Increasingly, research demonstrates that fun is a necessary element in learning across all ages and levels. "The research has found that fun and enjoyment does play a role in adult learning programs," observes Dorothy Lucardie in "The Impact of Fun and Enjoyment on Adults Learning." Barab et al., reflect on the work they did to develop their Quest Atlantis project: "We began with a simple goal: Let's make learning fun."
Decades ago, Zippy the Pinhead, Bill Griffith's unconventional comic character, first sarcastically asked, "Are we having fun yet?" I predict that with Crabby and other entertaining videos and inventive activities, you and your students will earnestly answer, "Yes!"
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