Anticipation Guide: from A Call to Assembly by Willie Ruff
Yvonne Divans Hutchinson

The questions below will introduce issues and ideas that you may confront in your reading of the excerpt from Willie Ruff's autobiography, A Call to Assembly. They are formulated to encourage you to think about these issues.  Write True in front of the number if you agree with the statement.  Write False in front of the number if you disagree with the statement. a space has been provided at the bottom of the paper for you to express your views on any item you have marked.

1. A person deserves to be treated with respect regardless of her/his race, creed, color, or station in life.

2. Historically the word "nigger" is a racist term that is unacceptable under any circumstances."

3. I use the word "Nigger" in my conversation with family and friends.

4. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

5. A poor person who needs to work should obey the wishes of her/his employer even though it conflicts with her/his beliefs or violates the person's sense of dignity and self-esteem.

6.It is possible to love/care about a person of a different race.

7. Black people often had no real power to fight against racism and the "Jim Crow" system "back in the day."

8. A child should always obey the commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother," even if she/he thinks the parent/guardian is wrong.


The students responded to the guide before they read Willie Ruff's memoir.   I wanted to motivate students to think critically about the issues and themes embedded in the text. According to reading expert Kate Kinsella (San Francisco University), "  The Anticipation Guides is an excellent method for promoting active reading, raising expectations about meaning, and helping students to modify erroneous beliefs. . . .The purpose of the Anticipation Guide is to create a mismatch between what students may know and believe and what is present in the text. Shablak and Castallo (1977) referred to this mismatch as 'conceptual conflict' and suggested that this conflict plays a role in stimulating curiosity and motivation to learn.  The Anticipation Guide was first developed by Herber (1978) who suggested that comprehension should be enhanced if students become actively involved in making predictions about concepts covered in the text."

Because I know my students well, I knew that they felt passionately about such issues as race, dignity, respect, and the communication gap between children and adults. I created my AG to provoke thought and discussion about controversial issues relevant to their lives that could emerge from their reading. I wasn't as interested in "modifying erroneous beliefs" as I was in activating their prior knowledge and beliefs and paving the way for them to confront the historical, psychological, and social implications of the text.