I LOVE teaching students how to make inferences! I think it is because this is a difficult concept for them to grasp and once they get it, you can actually see the light bulb blinking above their head! I taught a lesson on making inferences last week and want to share a few resources that may be helpful in your classroom.
To begin, I am currently in the process of building a reader’s companion to be used with the book, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary. Currently, this book is our text book for literacy as well as our nightly reading text. I’ve gotten away from teaching literacy using the basal text/ anthology and swear by using chapter books and reading companions to teach and reinforce important concepts for reading comprehension. The companions I make allow me to systematically teach all of the concepts necessary for success while also making sure I hit the Common Core Standards. I will share more on how I use reading companions in the classroom in a later blog post. In the meantime, while I build my most recent companion, I will share some of the resources (freebies) I’ve been using to highlight specific skills.
Teaching the Lesson:
So, first we discussed what it means to make an inference. Inferences, which can be confused with drawing conclusions, are what we make when we “read between the lines”. It is how we fill in the gaps when the author leaves information out. It is how we determine the weather, a person’s feelings, where something took place, why an event occurred, etc. Inferences are really easy to make once we realize we make inferences all of the time.
(clue from the text) Pete grabbed his umbrella and raincoat and walked toward the door. (schema) We use an umbrella and/or raincoat when it is raining outside. (inference) Even though the text didn’t state it explicitly, we can infer that it is raining outside.
(clue from the text) The whistle blew and all of the kids ran to the wall to grab their lunch bags and jackets. They quickly lined up and waited quietly for their teacher to pick them up. (schema) Sometimes a person may blow a whistle or ring a bell to get someone’s attention. They blow a whistle at school after recess. Kids usually play outside for recess after lunch. (inference) The kids were probably lining up after recess. This event likely takes place at school/ on the school yard.
(clue from the text) Lisa was anxious to get her test paper back. She spent the last several studying but was still worried about her score. When the teacher handed Lisa her paper, she looked at it slowly. Finally she could relax and a smile spread across her face. (schema) When a person smiles, they are usually happy about something. (inference) Lisa was happy with her test results.
Once students grasp the concept that an inference is made when we are filling in the author’s gaps or figuring out an idea based on clues given by the author, it becomes easier to identify when we make those inferences. You can remind students that they may make an inference when:
- The author describes the weather but doesn’t specifically say what season it is.
- It was a hot and humid afternoon. The sun was beaming and their was no shade in sight. Bill and Keith slowly walked their bikes up the hill toward the neighborhood pool. They couldn’t wait to dive into the cool water. (summer)
- The author describes the setting by giving details about the setting but specifically stating where the event is taking place.
- The fans stood on their feet as Lester slid to home base. (baseball game)
- The author describes an event but doesn’t say what or why something occurred.
- “She took a firm hold on her egg, waited until everyone at her table was watching, and whack- she found herself with a handful of crumbled shell and something cool and slimy running down her face.”- Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (In the story, Ramona thought her egg was hard boiled before smacking it on her face. After she smacked it on her forehead, the readers can infer that her egg wasn’t actually boiled).
As I mentioned previously, I am currently creating a reader’s companion for the book Ramona Quimby, Age 8 that I am using for our reading instruction. The lesson and anchor chart that I used to teach Making Inferences” is in this freebie. I’ve also included all of the resources that I used for teaching “Making Connections” along with comprehension questions for chapter 1. If you are interested in checking this freebie out before the companion is posted in its entirety, download it now! Once I am finished teaching (and tweaking) this unit, I will post the entire resource in my TPT store. Feel free to leave feedback highlighting what worked for you and what you would like to see. These are things I will keep in mind while completing this companion.
Here are three videos that I used to help my students get practice with making inferences. I used the videos because they are interesting and eye-catching for the students. Also, because the characters don’t talk in these clips. Students have to use the setting and the character’s actions to tell the story….or, make inferences. This is a fun way to integrate technology and provide meaningful practice. By downloading this resource, you can also have suggested questions for guiding students to make inferences and an exit slip. Exit slips are great for monitoring progress and participation.
Below are the videos that the above resource corresponds with.
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