Anticipation Guide: Day Four

Because of the nature of the anticipation guide, one indirect result is that it allows students to make predictions about the text.  If they are responding to belief statements held by the characters or the author then they are able to make predictions about the characters in the text.  However, in higher level classes the students are naturally able to make personal connections with the characters as they read, thereby making the anticipation guide in its basic form unnecessary to spend valuable class time on.  However, while often able to anticipate what happens to the characters, they often struggle to anticipate style.  Therefore, to help my AP students activate their reading, I often create pre-reading activities to ask them to anticipate style.

Any easy way to get them making literary predictions is to give them a text from the same author and in the same style to study prior to reading.  For example, the style in Hemingway’s “In Another Country” closely resembles the style he utilizes in A Farewell to Arms.  The same is true for Fitzgerald’s “Winter Dreams,” whose rhetorical and literary markers mimic The Great Gatsby.  However, if looking for an immediate, hands-on approach, consider having them study and discuss key stylistic elements to a piece before to reading it.

One activity is to ask them to consider the denotation and connotations of a particular word prior to their reading.  For example, in anticipation to reading Chapter 1 of The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, I ask students to consider the various meanings and associations with the word “gymnastics.”  This usually generates a discussion about what the word means in their own world or what images are conjured by it.  Then, after reading Chapter 1 we examine the sentence (provided below) in which the word is used and explore how our original interpretations and associations were correct.  In this particular instance we ultimately end up discussing how this one word, used to describe two fiddles and not a sport in which a person participates, ultimately reveals much about the culture, thereby conducting a much more critical reading.

“The music had started up, and half a block away you could hear the dull ‘broom, broom’ of a cello, with the squeaking of two fiddles which vied with each other in intricate and altitudinous gymnastics” (page 7).

By modifying the anticipation guide in this way the students are still being engaged in the reading and it gives them more of a purpose.  Instead of just reading for which characters they align with personally they are also reading for how the word aligns with their personal interpretation.

A more developed, but similar activity involves The Great Gatsby.  While we do quite a bit of work with the generation, which does serve as a type of an anticipation guide, I provide a variety of tasks for students to consider before they read Chapter One.

  • If you were an author, what color(s) would you incorporate in a passage when trying to convey a feeling of freshness and possibly sterility?
  • What are three specific shades that convey wealth and luxury?
  • What effect is produced by incorporating wind into a scene?
  • What would you associate with the word “buoy”?
  • How can someone, even if feebly, control nature?
  • What three adjectives would you associate with the actual image of a wedding cake, not the sentiments attached to it?

Some years, I have even asked students to draw a scene based on their answers to the above questions.  Then, for homework, the students read the chapter that includes the following passage:

We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.

The next day in class we conduct a close reading of the passage, studying the images and symbols located in the text and explore how closely their answers mimicked the choices Fitzgerald made.  By making predictions about the intention of the author’s style it engages them in a more critical manner than common themes and belief statements.   They begin reading more closely to identify the passage for which they answered questions and, while reading, make comparisons.  While an activity like this could be done at all levels, it is an especially powerful tool for the students who are able to make the personal connections on their own and are looking for more of a challenge prior to starting a text.


One comment

  1. Roseanne Hoffman says:

    I am a second year AP Lang. and Comp. teacher. I just stumbled across this site and shared it with my district’s coaches. This activity is going to be perfect for Gatsby.

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