Most tasks or activities in school, e.g., studying
for a test, writing essays or reports, or completing complex math
problems, require the student to preview the task before starting
to work. Previewing enables students to plan ahead, rather than
jumping into a task or activity without thinking. Students who
preview actively think about what a task requires or what their
work will look like when finished, creating a picture in their
mind of the final product. Having a picture of the final product
helps students choose strategies to more effectively complete
the task. It also helps them have a model to strive for while
working, and to judge how closely the final product matches their
Here are some strategies for enhancing a student’s
- Provide students with models of assignments
to give them a sense of how a final product might look. For
example, make work from last year available and draw students’
attention to specific qualities of the work, e.g., “Notice
that the students who received an ‘A’ did…,
students who received a ‘B’ did...”, etc.
- Engage students in active planning activities,
such as setting long and short term goals, brainstorming strategies
that may help meet goals, selecting the best strategy, and self-monitoring.
Keep in mind the abilities of particular students, e.g., completing
20 math problems is as much a goal for some students as is reading
4 books and writing a report.
- Provide students with explicit guidelines
for planning activities and self-monitoring during the activity,
e.g., “Planning for 5 minutes will help you to…,
Every 5-10 minutes you will need to stop and check to see if
your plan is still working”, etc.
- Have students stop and actively plan before
starting tasks, instead of planning as they go. Have students
state the goals of each task and the strategies that they will
use to complete the task, describing their plans to each other.
Have students to create flowcharts, or road maps, that illustrate
the process they will use to complete a task.
- Encourage students to think about the role
of previewing in social relationships. Predict the outcome of
different approaches to problems or social situations. Then
role play the impact positive and negative comments might have
on friends and other students in these situations.
- Provide students practice with making predictions
while they’re learning. For example, use prediction charts
in reading to help students organize their predictions and maintain
them for later reflection, use story starter activities in writing
where students contribute the rest of a story based on the beginning,
use historical events in social studies in which students make
predictions before learning the actual outcomes, or have students
estimate answers to math problems and science experiments before
doing the actual solving.