Predictable Chart Writing

Predictable Chart Writing lessons offer students at the Emergent level (and above) an opportunity to participate in structured and systematic shared writing activities that emphasize expressive language. Readtopia’s Predictable Chart Writing lessons, inspired by the strategy introduced by Cunningham (1979), expanded by Hall & Williams (2001), and adapted by Erickson & Koppenhaver (2019), utilizes student interests and experiences to engage the learner in a shared writing experience.

Designed to be taught during five, 15-minute lesson periods over the course of several chapters in the thematic unit, Predictable Chart Writing is composed of five activities that provide instruction in:

  • Print conventions (capitalization, punctuation, first/last words in a sentence, etc.)
  • Concepts of print (read from top to bottom, left to right, etc.)
  • Alphabet knowledge (letter names and sounds)
  • Concept of a word (first and last letter of a word, space between and around words, etc.)
  • Development of high frequency (core) vocabulary used to read, write and communicate


Use free Communication Boards to model and support participation by your AAC users. Some good resources include:

Readtopia Lesson Pix Communication Supports
(Readtopia Resources > Communication Supports > Lesson Pix)

Project Core (General Vocabulary)

Activity 1: Write the chart.

The teacher leads students in writing a Predictable Chart. A topic (provided in the Teacher Guide lesson plans) is presented to the students. Teachers then guide students in brainstorming and listing words related to the topic. After generating the list, the teacher introduces the sentence stem and models selecting a word from the list to complete the stem. Next, each student chooses a word from the list or contributes a new word to complete their own sentences. The teacher writes each student’s sentence while modeling print conventions on the predictable chart.

example of a completed predictable chart
Example of a Completed Predictable Chart


Brainstorming helps students to participate in chart writing because it helps them think about the topic. For students who are struggling to think of words related to the topic, and/or who have limited communication abilities, facilitate brainstorming using:

  • picture communication symbols
  • physical objects or pictures related to the topic
  • questions that will guide students to appropriate words related to the topic.
    (e.g. Our sentence is about the monster. What does a monster look like, act like, etc.?)

See the Support Students Using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Adult Tip Sheet (located under the Resources tab > Adult Tip Sheets).

Activity 2: Reread the chart.

The teacher and students take turns leading the choral reading of the chart while pointing to each word as they read it. Next, the teacher identifies an element of text for students to focus on (i.e., a letter, sight word, capital letter, punctuation, etc.). Students actively engage in identifying the element of text the teacher identifies.

Activity 3: Work with sentence strips.

Students begin to explore and eventually demonstrate understanding of the concept of a word by cutting the sentences they composed into words and then arranging them back into a logical order.

example of predictable chart sentence strips
Sentence Strips

Activity 4: Be the sentence.

Students are given word cards from the sentence and work together to line up to arrange their word cards in order to match the sentence on the predictable chart. Both the teacher and other students participate in coaching students to line up correctly.

example of predictable chart be the sentence activity
Be the Sentence Activity

Activity 5: Make and publish the book.

Students take their sentences and contribute to making and publishing a class book. Students select an image to represent their sentences. The image and sentence are glued to a blank page to be combined with other students’ pages to create a book.  The book can be added to the classroom library to be shared with everyone!

example of predictable chart make and publish book activity
Make and Publish the Book Activity

Predictable Chart Writing English Language Arts Objectives

With guidance and support, participate in shared writing:

  • Offer / choose word(s) to complete a simple sentence frame
  • Recognize that sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a period
  • Recognize that a sentence is written and read from left to right
  • Read text comprised of familiar words with accuracy and understanding.

NOTE: Each Predictable Chart Writing lesson has additional objectives included in the thematic unit Teacher Guide.

How does Predictable Chart Writing build communication skills?

“Predictable Chart Writing (Cunningham, 1979) is one way that a teacher can focus on the language selection component of writing, allowing students to develop skills in that area. It is particularly suitable for students who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) as it helps them to understand a lot about early writing, sentence structure and language selection in writing. It also allows all writers to be very successful – helping to build their self-confidence and image of themselves as a writer.”

Thematic Units