About Julie Coiro

Empowering Struggling Readers in
Grades 4-6 with Technology

Electronic Anticipation Guides

Presented by Julie Coiro
SERC, March 21, 2002

Electronic Anticipation Guides

A traditional anticipation guide is a series of statements, usually between five and ten, to which students must respond individually before reading a certain text.  The statements are designed in such a way as to activate thought about particular events, ideas, plots or issues that will be introduced in the text about to be read.  Having students engage in these thoughts before reading prepares them to read as more active participants.  They get a sense of the major ideas they will encounter in the text, and they have an opportunity to reflect and respond to these ideas individually before being influenced by the group.

In this session, you'll be exploring an electronic anticipation guide intended to develop shared meaning and build background knowledge before students begin reading the novel My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.  Like the traditional guide, this electronic version serves as an interactive prompt to facilitate student thought and discussion about major isses and themes found in the novel.  However, this guide supports learners not only before they read, but also during and after their reading.  It is intended to help students draw more personal connections to the text and to provide a resource for later extension and exploration.  With a link to the Internet, they have easy and supported access to information that connects the events that occur within the story with real-life, current information.

Electronic Anticipation Guide for 

My Side of the Mountain
written by Jean Craighead George

Anticipation Guide created by Julie Coiro 

Sam Gribley is terribly unhappy living in New York City with his family, so he runs away to the Catskill Mountains to live in the woods-all by himself. With only a penknife, a ball of cord, forty dollars, and some flint and steel, he intends to survive on his own. Sam learns about courage, danger, and independence during his year in the wilderness, a year that changes his life forever.

Listed below, you'll find four issues for you to read and decide whether you agree or disagree.  Be prepared to defend your answer during your small group discussion time.  We know that good readers make lots of connections between what they read, their own lives, other people's lives and other books that they've read.  By thinking about your answers to these questions, you'll have time to make your own connections to the novel and the main character's experiences in the wilderness.  You'll be asked to refer back to each of these issues and complete various center activities before, during, and after reading My Side of the Mountain.


Once you've gotten used to living on the land at a particular time of year, you can pretty much do the same things the whole year round. 


Before you read: View the photos of the Catskill Mountains.   (Set A, Set B, and Set C) Notice the changes of seasons captured in the photos.  How might the characteristics of each season affect Sam's ability to adapt? 

While you read: Make note of any connections you make between these photographs and the settings described in the book My Side of the Mountain.  Find examples of how the changes in the seasons may affect Sam's ability to survive in the wilderness. 

After you read: Think back to the story and describe a seasonal change that was particularly difficult for Sam.  What were some of the difficulties of this particular season and how did Sam learn to adapt? 


It would be difficult to have your closest companion for a whole year be a wild animal.


Before you read: In this story, Sam captures and trains a peregrine falcon. The falcon captures small animals for Sam's meals and becomes his faithful companion. Find out what a peregrine falcon looks like from these photographs of a baby falcon, find out more about their daily habits, and check out these photos of a mother peregrine falcon with her eggs, after they are born a month later, photos of them feeding, and two photos of full-grown peregrine falcons. You can also watch some incredible movies of the fledgling falcons feeding on mice.  Imagine being like Sam and having the opportunity to live with a falcon up close.  Write a journal description of how you would describe that experience if you had the chance. 

While you read: Explore A Falconer's Memoirs, one man's story about his experiences with the ancient art of falconry. Explore the Falcons & Man Timeline.  Learn more about the equipment used for the formal practice of falconry and the history of falconry.  Compare the formal art of falconry with Sam's relationship with the peregrine falcon.  In what ways are they similar and in what ways are they different? 

After you read: Find out why peregrine falcons were endangered (read more from The Endangered Species Page or The Division of Endangered Species) and then learn more about The Peregrine Fund and their efforts around the world to save the peregrine falcon and other important birds of prey from human predators and many environmental hazards. 


I would have the survival skills to find food and shelter to live for a year in the wilderness by myself. 


Before you read: Visit Troy's website about Wilderness Survival Skills to learn about building fires, finding food and water, building a shelter, and keeping a survivalist attitude. Which do you think will be the hardest for Sam to do as he begins his experience?  Which would be hardest for you to do if you ran away from home to survive in the wilderness by yourself? 

While you read:
Read about the survival adventures of the Swiss Family Robinson.  Click on "Downloads" in the left margin to watch a great introductory movie to these island adventures.  Check out the description of Walt Disney World's Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.  How does this treehouse compare to the treehouse that Sam builds in the story? 

After you read: Think about Sam's survival experience and compare it to the experiences of the real people who are part of the CBS primetime television series Survivor.  Which experience do you think was easier and why? Which experience would you rather have been a part of and why? 


The author must have known a lot about survival and the wilderness in order to write this book. 


Before you read: Listen as your teacher reads aloud to you the preface to the story My Side of the Mountain.  What types of experiences do you think influenced Jean Craighead George's decision to write this book? Meet the author at her website and explore the sign posts to gain a better understanding of her motivation for writing this book and others. 

While you read: Take note of the specific pieces of information that Jean Craighead George includes in My Side of the Mountain about animals, plants, and living off the land.  She learned many of these facts from her father and brother.  Try to find at least two places in the book where you have learned more about surviving in the wilderness and use your journal to describe how this information might you if you were ever stuck outside alone at for a week in a strange outdoor place. 

After you read: Learn a little more about another author who writes about life in the wilderness. Farley Mowat, a Canadian author of another children's book Owls in the Family, also used his experiences as a child growing up with wild animals as a major focus of his books. 

Instructional Practices Grounded in Research
Computer Supported Reading Environments
Inspiration as a Software Literacy Tool
Anticipation Guides 
Discussions with One
Classroom Computer 
Fostering Literacy Connections Online Literacy Software Support Tools Related Resources 
for Teachers


Last updated March 3, 2002