Anticipation Guide

This priming activity helps students activate prior knowledge and reflect on the topic being studied.

Students receive a sheet with several declarative sentences about the topic they will be reading about. The students decide if they ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ with each of the sentences by putting an ‘A’ or ‘D’ after each statement. After completing the sheet, students gather in groups to discuss their answers and share why they ‘agreed’ or ‘disagreed’ with the topic. Students read the text and then review, revise and discuss what they learned from the text with their answers in the Anticipation Guide. Typically anticipation guides are used with informational text to prepare students for new information.

Skills Addressed

• Activating prior knowledge before reading to enhance comprehension
• Generating (and justifying) hypotheses that become purposes for reading
• Listening to and weighing others’ information and opinions
• Focusing attention on relevant information (before, during, after reading)
• Reading to answer self-generated questions
• Recognizing explicit information; inferring implicit information
• Articulating knowledge before and after reading


• Ability to engage in flexible, divergent thinking
• Comfort about hypothesizing with limited information
• Ability to articulate and defend an idea or point of view
• Willingness to listen to others’ ideas, compare/contrast with one’s own
• Ability to use general knowledge (in absence of topic-specific knowledge)

Steps Involved

• Teacher writes several declarative statements about the topic.
• Students decide if they agree or disagree with the statements.
• Groups share and debate ideas; teacher moderates, does not give hints.
• Students read text to get more information.
• Students review statements, revise, discuss how their thinking has changed.

Related Learning Principles

• Comprehension is influenced by “priming” (details in statements become salient).
• Purposeful learning is most efficient and effective.
• Learner-set purposes are more effective than teacher-set purposes.


This strategy can be applied across grade levels and content areas. In the primary grades, use fewer statements and read the text aloud while the students listen for the information. To differentiate instruction, have the whole class discuss the same statements before reading (based on information the teacher gleaned from different texts), then have students read different texts, matched to their reading levels.

Source: H. Herber, Teaching Reading in the Content Areas (Prentice Hall, 1978).