Anticipation Guides

As I continue to study ways to move local and state mathematics teaching and learning forward, I am focused on accessibility (content and language) for all students.  This study has brought me to the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) and Sheltered Instruction strategies.  Using these lenses as I continue to guide teachers and campus/district instructional leaders to transform their practices (with the Visioning Document as the North Star), I recognize the overlap is unavoidable: redefine practices with intentionally designed, responsive teaching practices and meet the needs of each learner – taking them from where they are to next steps in their learning journey.

This post is about one tool to support learners, especially English Language Learners: Anticipation Guides.

An Anticipation Guide is a comprehension tool used before a learning experience to activate learners’ prior knowledge.  It may also be used to link new learning to prior learning.

Anticipation Guides are intentionally created lists of questions or statements about a specific topic of study.  Students are provided the document in which to read and reflect in the form of a checklist. Typical checklists for Anticipation Guides are True/False and Agree/Disagree.

Numbers, by Apple, is a productivity app that allows you to create spreadsheets with templates, including a checklist.  Numbers supports collaboration (currently in Beta form) through iCloud, allows for integration with PC users, and is compatible with Microsoft Excel.


In 4th Grade Mathematics, students study angles in a new way.  In this grade level, students measure angles with protractors and consider angles in triangles in order to classify the geometric shapes.  The Anticipation Guide example below, created using Numbers, includes this 4th Grade Mathematics content.  Notice the boxes in the Agree/Disagree columns provided for learners to respond to before and after the learning experience.


Downloadable files linked below:

The images below show examples of before (left) and after (right) completion of the Anticipation Guide.  Notice the checklist selections made before the learning experience are not changed or erased as a result of new learning.  This provides the student and educator evidence of learning when comparing the selections with those made after the learning experience.

Example documents linked below:

Anticipation Guides are among Sheltered Instruction Strategies for English Language Learners as they may allow educators to intentionally build background and comprehensible input for students.