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Possible Sentences

Possible Sentences is a pre-reading strategy that focuses on vocabulary building and student prediction prior to reading. In this strategy, teachers write the key words and phrases of a selected text on the chalkboard. Students are asked to . . .

  • Define all of the terms.

  • Group the terms in related pairs.

  • Write sentences using these word pairs.

These "possible sentences" introduce the important skill of pre-reading prediction. Students then "check" their predictions by a close, careful reading of the text selection.

Steps to Possible Sentences:

  1. Prior to the reading assignment, list all significant vocabulary words in a reading selection on the chalkboard.

  2. Ask students to define the words and select pairs of related words from the list.

  3. Require students to write sentences using each of the word pairs that they might expect to appear in the selection, given its title and general subject area.

  4. Select several students to write their "possible sentences" on the chalkboard. Engage the students in a discussion of the appropriateness of the word pairing and the "plausibility" of each sentence as a "possible sentence" in the selection.

  5. Have students read the selection and test the accuracy of their predictions. Sentences that are not accurate should be revised.

  6. Poll the class for common accurate and inaccurate predictions. Discuss possible explanations for the success or failure of these predictions.

Learn More:

  • D.W., & Moore, S.A. (1986). "Possible sentences." In Reading in the content areas: Improving classroom instruction. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

  • Lenski, Susan D., Wham, Mary Ann, & Johns, Jerry L. (1999). Reading and learning strategies for middle and high school students. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.