Probable Passages

This strategy will help students to: 

personally connect and engage with what they are reading. Probable Passages is a before reading activity that aims to ‘get knowledge ready’ for reading by familiarising students with some of the vocabulary they will encounter in the text. Students are given a number of words from the passage and are asked to make connections between the words and predict what information might be in the text.


  1. Students begin with 8-14 vocabulary words that the teacher has selected from the text. Some words might have obvious connections and others could be more difficult to group. Students will also need a blank ‘Probable Passages’ handout.
  2. In pairs or small groups students will categorise the words into boxes on the ‘Probable Passages’ handout.
  3. Using their own prior knowledge and as many of the vocab terms as possible the students create a gist statement predicting what they think the text will be about.
  4. The class then reads through the text and compare their gist statement with what was actually in the text.
  5. Once the class has finished reading and discussing the differences, students revise their gist statement to create a summary paragraph about what they have read.


After reading, the students can reflect by answering the following questions;

  • How does making predictions help you to understand a text?
  • How does writing affect your learning differently from speaking?
  • How does thinking about categorizing help you to understand words?
  • How does it help you to understand ideas?
  • When else might you use this activity?

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