Possible Sentences

Join Emily Yamasaki, an instructional coach, in discovering "Possible Sentences," an engaging pre-reading strategy suitable for grades 2 to 8. This no-prep approach helps students predict content and activate prior knowledge. Emily shares valuable tips to optimize this strategy, including word selection and post-reading activities, making it an efficient tool for your classroom.

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Emily Yamasaki is an instructional coach at San Diego Global Vision Academy SDUSD in San Diego, California.


Hello, my name is Emily Yamasaki and I’m an instructional coach out here in San Diego, and I’m here to share with you a strategy called “Possible Sentences”. I would recommend it for grade levels between second and eighth grade.

I love the strategy called Possible Sentences because it’s a pre-reading strategy that actually gets the students a little bit of context of what the article or the reading is going to be about, and offers for you as the educators, some insight of what prior knowledge they have coming into it. So my goal today is to start off with how this strategy works, and then I’m going to come back in with some tips and tricks that work to help you differentiate.

So, Possible Sentences is super simple. No prep, no extra paper or anything that you need. All you need to be able to do is to skim-read the article that you’re going to read with the students first. After you take a look at it, you’re going to pick out eight words from the article that you believe will get a spur out of the kids. And they’re going to direct the students, you’re going to put the eight words on the board, and you’re going to direct the students, with partners, to pair up the words and create four possible sentences that they think might exist in that text. So, for example, if you’re going to read something about bees and you see the word “extinction” and “pesticides,” and you pull some of those words down, a student might be with their partner and say, “Ooh, I bet those two words might go together in a sentence”, and they’re going to draft a sentence together as a team. They do have to agree on it because that would make sure that they collaborate together. Have them jot it down, have the class share some out, and now you have some insight of what do they already know about these before you read them. Of course that’s where the fun is, because as they read, you’re going to have the kids be like, “Wow! I got that sentence,” or “that was almost exactly what we wrote and discussed.” so that’s always kind of fun for them. And that’s the gist of the strategy.

So my tips and tricks are: I said to choose eight, if you’re working with a younger grade level, you’re of course welcome to choose six. You could always go up to ten depending on the grade level and the content that you’re working with.

Other than that, when you choose the words, I would be selective about which words you choose. So if there are vocabulary words in this textbook, for example, that are highlighted, go ahead and choose those, but maybe make sure that if you choose three of those, include maybe a few words that are more familiar to the students so that they have more of a go when they’re trying to pair them up prior to reading.

Another fun way to work with this pre-reading strategy a little bit more is you can have them go back to their possible sentences after they’ve read the article and rate their sentences with a one, two or three. One being “this was nowhere near the mark, nowhere did it show up in this story or article,” two would be like, “oh, I kind of got the gist there. I just sounded a little bit different in the article”, and three would be, “that sentence could have been lifted right from paragraph five because I see it right over here”, right? And that way they have a little bit of time to reflect on their possible sentences. Maybe you can have them revise their sentences that were rated a one, to make it fit what actually did show up in the article, or you can always have them look at those six or to ten words again and write you a summary of what the article was about.

So, that’s “Possible Sentences.” I hope that you enjoy it as a pre-reading strategy.

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