Scaffolding a Predictable Chart Lesson (based on Dottie Hall’s & Pat Cunningham’s work)
What is it? A predictable chart is a series of individual student sentences that follow a predictable oral language pattern.
Who writes the chart? The teacher writes the chart in front of the students. The students do not share the pen during this activity. The teacher thinks aloud as she takes the child’s idea and composes it word by word.
Purpose: To draw student’s attention to print, one-to-one correspondence (print tracking), recognition of sight words, develop common oral language vocabulary and grammatical structures. During the five-day sequence, students learn flexibility about print principles by print tracking, arranging cut up sentences, building sentences etc.
Day One: Dictation of Sentences (1/3-1/2 of class)
- Develop the sentence pattern from context (shared reading, read-aloud, etc.). The best predictable charts are created after the teacher has conducted a concept building lesson. For example, to build the concept of the word on, the teacher will read the book, The Spider on the Floor. Following the read aloud, the teacher has the sentence starter, The spider is on the _____., written on a sentence strip. The teacher has a beanie baby spider that the children use to act out the concept of the spider on school equipment. The teacher has multiple pictures of school items (chair, teacher’s chair, teacher’s desk, student desk, blocks, floor, etc.). The child closes her eyes, selects a picture then acts out the sentence. By placing the beanie baby spider on an object the children experience the word, on, instead of just hearing it.
- Develop the vocabulary needed for the language structure.
- Begin the chart with your modeled sentence. (Use alternating colors for every sentence in the beginning of the year for approximately 4-6 weeks.) The teacher models the complete sentence orally, and then writes the complete sentence in front of the students. This is not an opportunity to use a fill-in-the-blank sentence or write one word activity.
- Students share their sentences using the same sentence pattern.
- Students need to rehearse a complete sentence even if they give you a one-word response.
- The teacher should break the sentence down word by word as you write it so to model the match between speech and print. DO not spell words letter by letter.
- Students can turn and talk to a partner saying their complete sentence.
- Sometimes students have a picture to build the sentence around.
- Sometimes students hold onto the popcorn word (high frequency word) and hold it up when the teacher writes it on the chart.
Day Two: Finish Dictation of Sentences (2/3-1/2 of class, the remaining students have a turn)
- Reread a few sentences on the chart while pointing to each word (can have students clap, chant, or tap fingers, students spell the popcorn word at times, the students learn about concepts of print).
- Discuss how readers use an inner voice during reading to make sure the voice matches the word. Read each sentence out loud and pause to allow them to read it using their inner voice.
- Where are our eyes during reading? Our eyes, ears, and mouth need to be on the same word.
- Complete the chart with the remaining students. You can begin by modeling and rereading student sentences from yesterday and call on a few more students to share their sentences.
Day Three: Touch Reading and Mixed up sentences
Preparation: The night before, type all students’ sentences (landscape comic sans 46 works well) and cut them into individual student strips.
- Sit in a circle and pass out each sentence to individual students. Model finger-pointing as you read your sentence in front of you on the floor. It works best to pass around a stuffed animal that students can hold in their lap as they read their individual sentence to the stuffed animal. My favorite is the beanie baby.
- Students should be coached to track print. 1-1 word correspondence; eyes, mouth, ears all saying the same word, The student rereads own sentence and the teacher gives the students an opportunity to read own sentence to group using 1-1 word correspondence and eyes on word.
- Students read their sentence numerous times. Read to whole class going around the circle, read to partner on right, read to partner on left, read to self using inner voice, (will read to parent).
- After each student reads their sentence, ask students to find different words on their sentence strips (ie. Name, sight word, a word that starts like…)
- Possibly reinforce how many words in their sentence.
- After reinforcing words that the children can read, reinforce the concepts of print by asking children questions (Where is the period? Where is the capital? Do you have a space?…)
- Prompt students to coordinate speech to print as the year progresses.
- Note about the individual strips for children: Send home strips to read to parents or an important person. Children love to read these strips. Run the sentences off again for Day 5 and cut them again for Day Five’s Lesson.
Day Four: Mixed up sentences (Can be done on Day Three or Day Four)
- Choose 3 or 4 students’ sentences and write them on sentence strips (last night in preparation for lesson).
- The first student goes up to the chart and finds his sentence and reads it to the group.
- Then, you cut the sentence written on the sentence strip (not the chart) word by word in front of the group while the students read it word by word. The teacher teaches the difference between space and word.
- Mix up the sentence in a pocket chart.
- Have the owner of the sentence go up to the chart and assemble the sentence.
- Repeat this process for 3 or 4 sentences.
Sentence Builders / Be the Sentence (Day 4)
- Preparation: Write up 1 or 4 student sentences on large pieces of paper or use the sentence strip words.
- Have the student locate his/her sentence from the main chart.
- The student who ‘owns’ the sentence, passes out individual words to students in the class. (There should be one student for each word in the sentence and the student of the sentence keeps own name.)
- Students build the sentence in front of the group. Children line up in the proper order of the sentence.
- Have the owner of the sentence point to each word and read their sentence to check to see if it is in correct sequence.
- Student of the sentence reads the sentence to the group.
- All students read the sentence chorally with the student of the sentence.
- You can ask some probing questions: What word begins like…, What is the first word?? Etc. You can have one student turn around while the other students close their eyes and have them guess the missing word. Who has the first word? Who has the word, ___? Who has the last word? Etc.
Sentence Builders / Be the Sentence variation (Day 4)
- Divide the students into partners or triads.
- Write one sentence per partner or triad group. (Approximately 12 sentences)
- Each group gets a cut up sentence (random sentences from chart).
- Group makes sentence.
- Group reads sentence to teacher who trades with them for another sentence.
Day Five: Make the class book
Preparation: The teacher cuts the sentence strips (not the students) to prepare for this final step. (Progression from easiest to hardest: You can differentiate by choosing different options depending on student’s literacy development)
Easiest: Write a model on the paper and cut only the name
- Write a model on the paper and cut into phrase units (3 cuts) (ie. I like —— my cat. —— Devin)
- Write a model on the paper and cut into individual units (ie. I—like—my—cat.—Devin)
****You should be through these first three steps by the end of the first six weeks of school.
- Cut into phrase units with NO model on the paper. (You may not need this step for some of your students).
- Cut into individual word units with NO model on the paper (This is your goal by the end of the first semester- many students will be able to achieve this level much earlier).
Steps for Day Five:
- Model the process every week for your students by creating your page for the class book.
- Early in the year, you provide the strip of glue for the students using a glue stick (Determine when students are ready to take over this step).
- Option: Half the class begins their picture while the other half of the students assemble their sentences (This gives you time to help students that might need help.)
- Students should have to reread their assembled sentence before the glue goes down.
- Assemble book in page protectors for students to read throughout the year.