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Lesson Plan

Focus on First Lines: Increasing Comprehension through Prediction Strategies

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Focus on First Lines: Increasing Comprehension through Prediction Strategies

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Introduction: 50 minutes; thereafter: 5-10 minutes per session
Lesson Author

Jacqueline Podolski

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



At the beginning of a course or unit, students examine opening sentences from texts that they will read completely in later sessions. Students analyze the sentences and make predictions about the texts. As students read the complete texts throughout the course or unit, they return to their predictions to talk about the prediction strategy and to increase reading comprehension. The lesson plan includes sample opening lines for a variety of courses. The lesson can be easily adapted for any course or unit by collecting opening lines from texts that the class will read as a group.

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Online Think-Aloud Predictions for "Young Goodman Brown": This online tool demonstrates a close reading and analysis of the first line of a text.

Opening Lines Recording Sheet: Students can use this handout to record their predictions about texts they will read.

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In When Kids Can't Read, Kylene Beers explains, "Skilled readers consciously try to anticipate what the text is about before they begin reading. They look at the cover, art, title, genre, author, headings, graphs, charts, length, print size, front flaps, and back covers. . . . They do anything to find out something before they begin reading. Dependent readers, on the other hand, often don't do that; they are told to read something, and once the text is in hand, they just begin" (74). The comprehension strategy outlined in this lesson interrupts the habits of dependent readers by asking them to focus their attention on what they can tell from the first lines of a story, play, poem, or other text.

Further Reading

Beers, Kylene. When Kids Can't Read What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003.


Gorlewski, Julie, ed. "Shouldn't They Already Know How to Read? Comprehension Strategies in High School English." English Journal 98.4 (March 2009): 127-132.

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