now, you could probably infer several thing about me. The array of papers and
books all around me would tell you that neatness is not my best quality. The
placement of my computer mouse would tell you that I am left-handed, and the
fact that I am currently wearing work-out clothes would tell you that I am
planning to get to the gym at some point today. Most of us can make these kinds
of inferences automatically, however; as you well know inference does not come
so easily to everyone.
with many students who have social and language difficulties. I tend to come at learning from a “What
can we do to make this activity fun and motivating” perspective, which I
think is useful for teachers of all populations.
conclusion. This is awesome because most kids love puzzles…they love playing
detective and that is exactly what they get to do when they are learning to
infer. There are many, many terrific ways to teach inference. Here are a few of
facilitate inference. Unlike text, pictures do not rely on language to get
their message across, and unlike real life, pictures are static, so there is
time to observe and to discuss. Here are some ways to use pictures:
Pinterest is of course an amazing resource. Find
interesting pictures that can be used for inference and create questions around
Picture books is another terrific source for
pictures. Here are some questions to ask when using picture books:
How do you think the character in the picture feels?
What makes you think so?
How does the picture make you feel? Why?
What do you see in the background of this
picture? How is the background important?
Why do you think the illustrator used the color
_______ for _________?
What do you think will happen next?
Choose a concept word such as “love”,
“anger,” or “friendship” and have student use magazine
pictures to create a collage depicting that concept. Give students an
opportunity to share their colleges, explaining why they selected each picture.
Ask each student to bring a picture of him or
herself from home and to create one inference question about the picture. For
example, if he picture is of the student and his brother playing in the yard
and there are orange and yellow leaves all over the grass and the sky is gray,
the question could be: In what time of year was this picture taken? You could
make the pictures into a bulletin board, a PowerPoint, or simply display them
one by one with your document camera and discuss.
Play a video with the sound off. Ask your
students to infer what the characters are feeling. If you need to take extra
time, you can pause the video to discuss a specific character’s body language
of facial expression. Then replay the scene with the sound to see how accurate
the students inferences were.
lead to greater understanding as well as enjoyment of the reading material.
After all, it is fun to make an inference…sometimes so vague it seems more
like a hunch, and then have it confirmed later in the book. It kind of makes
you feel super smart.
Using the clue approach can be very motivating
for reluctant learners. They are inference detectives and their job is to look
for clues (aka specific words and phrases). When students make an inference
from text, be sure to ask: What makes you think so? Require the student to show
which words or phrases led to the inference.
When introducing inference, start with very
short passages of just a sentence of two. As skills grow, so can the size of
the reading material.
Create inference bookmarks for students.
Students use the book marks to write down inferences that they find in their
independent reading (one per bookmark). Require students to complete a certain
number of book marks for each book they read. An inference chart would be a
variation on this idea.
When reading out loud, pause when you come to a
section that contains inference clues. Question the class about what they can
infer from the passage.
Bring a backpack from home that you have filled
with specific items. Tell your students that it is their job to learn as much
as they can about the owner of the back pack by examining the contents. Pull
out one item at a time to discuss. Group items that seem to go together to tell
a story (for example, colored pencils, an eraser, and a sketch book). You could
also do this in small groups by giving each group a different backpack.
Have your students create Mystery Bags at home
to share. A Mystery Bag is a brown paper bag with a mystery item inside. On the
outside of the bag, the student writes clues about the mystery object inside.
One fun way to use the bags would be to number them and then have students walk
around the room with a clipboard and a numbered answer sheet on which they
record their guesses for each bag. Of course you will also want to leave time
for students to reveal their mystery objects.
Consider the mime. Mimes are all about
inference. If the audience does not infer then the mime’s act makes no sense.
If you can find a good mime video, or see an actual performance, you might want
to try it. You could also try having your students learn specific mime acts
such as pulling on a rope.
likely to remember the skills they have learned.
And don’t forget Task Cards!
|Image provided by Fourth Grade Flipper|