White and Johnson (2001) discovered that opinionnaires are highly beneficial in promoting deep and meaningful understandings of content area topics by activating and building relevant prior knowledge and building interest in and motivation to learn more about particular topics. Opinionnaires also promote self-examination, value students’ points of view, and provide a vehicle for influencing others with their ideas.
Opinionnaires are developed by generating statements about a topic that force students to take positions and defend them. The emphasis is on students’ points of view and not the “correctness” of their opinions. By taking a stand on issues related to the topic of study and engaging in critical discussion about those issues, students not only heighten their expectation of the content to follow but also made many new connections from their opinions and ideas to those of their classmates.
Similar to the opinionnaire, the anticipation guide involves giving students a list of statements about the topic to be studied and asking them to respond to it before reading and learning, and then again after reading and learning. While the opinionnaire works well with ideas that are open to debate and discussion, the anticipation guide strategy is better suited to information that is verifiable. Like opinionnaires, anticipation guides can activate prior knowledge of text topics and help students set purposes for reading and learning (Duffelmeyer & Baum, 1992; Merkley, 1996/97).
1. Begin by looking over the content you will be covering related to a particular topic. Decide whether the content lends itself to an open-ended discussion of issues or demands the learning of specific information and concepts.
2. Based on the content, craft statements that elicit either attitudes and beliefs or reactions to their accuracy and decide on a response mode. Statements may require an “agree” or “disagree” a “true” or “false” or a “yes” or “no.” Statements do not have to be factually accurate.
3. Before exploring the new content, present students with the statements and response options. These can be given in handout form, written on the board, overhead, or projected. Tell students to respond individually to the statements and be prepared to explain their responses.
4. Next, put students in pairs and have them compare and discuss their responses to the opinionnaire or anticipation guide statements before reading and learning. Emphasize that there is no “correct” answer at this stage of the lesson and that students should discuss freely.
5. Open the discussion to the whole class so as many different opinions, beliefs, points of view, and hunches about the accuracy of the statements are expressed.
6. Transition from the discussion by telling students that they are about to read and explore the topic (Any information source is amenable to the opinionnaire and anticipation guide strategies, such as a reading, a lecture, a PowerPoint presentation, a guest speaker, a lab experiment, etc.). Tell them to pay particular attention to content related to the statements.
7. Stop periodically as content is covered to consider the statements from the opinionnaire or anticipation guide and have students reconsider their pre-lesson responses. Students should revise their original responses to reflect their new learning.
8. If necessary, once the lesson content has been presented, engage students in a discussion around the statements. This gives you an opportunity to clarify any lingering misconceptions about issues, information, and concepts.
Duffelmeyer, R., & Baum, D. (1992). The extended anticipation guide revisited. Journal
of Reading, 35, 654-656.
Merkley, D. (1996/97). Modified anticipation guide. The Reading Teacher, 50, 365-368.
White, B., & Johnson, T.S. (2001). We really do mean it: Implementing language arts
Standard #3 with opinionnaires. The Clearing House, 74, 119-123.
CONTENT LITERACY STRATEGY DESCRIPTIONS for the 2008 LOUISIANA COMPREHENSIVE CURRICULUM, Dr. William G. Brozo, May 2008