Margin Notes

Anticipation Guides


What it is: a pre-reading strategy used to activate prior knowledge and spark interest about key concepts in a reading or unit of study. Teachers create these statements and provide them to students prior to a reading or unit of study. These statements are then revisited after the learning has occurred to document any changes in thinking. As such, it serves as both a pre and post-assessment. More so, it can be used to guide class/group/partner discussion about key concepts.  Here is a one I used with a group of students who were reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

As with most topics, we generally have pre-conceived ideas and beliefs, even if these are largely unconscious. Use the anticipatory guide below to help you uncover your beliefs about these topics, and also to investigate whether these change as a result of your reading.



Before Reading   After Reading
There are times when you should tell your sister’s/brother’s/friend’s secrets to an adult.
If you do not consume alcohol as a teenager, you will not be accepted by teenagers who do.
You can be happy and sad at the same time.
The “cool” kids at school are the happiest.
There are certain things that are “off –limits” to talk about with your friends.
Good readers are good writers.
Being a wallflower means you are not participating in life.
Learning how to make friends is more difficult in high school than in middle school.
Adults forget what the intensity of a crush is like for a teenager.
If adults really knew what happened at teenage parties they would be shocked.

Teaching Literacy in the Visible Learning Classroom by Hattie et al lists the following three steps for creating anticipation guides:

  1. Identify the major concepts. What are the main ideas in the passage or unit of study?
  2. Consider your students’ prior knowledge. What misconceptions are they most likely to hold?
  3. Write five to ten statements pertaining to the unit. Don’t make them all factual – be sure to create open-ended statements as well. Look again at your major concepts to make sure you are creating statements that relate to larger concepts rather than isolated facts. For example, for a reading about drama in literature, the titles of various plays would not be useful.

If you try anticipation guides with your students, we’d love to hear how it went!