The topic I’ll be blogging about today is inferences. Sometimes I wonder why forming an inference is so hard for students. Evidence + Schema = Inference… That should be clear as day to our students, right?
To form an inference or draw a conclusion, students have to think DEEP. They need to be able to call on previous knowledge (schema). Unfortunately, sometimes our students don’t have a lot of related background knowledge or life experiences, which is where their schema comes from. To help build strong inferences and deep thinking in my classroom, every Thursday is “Think Deep Thursday.” When my students enter the classroom, a message is waiting for them on the board. The message includes a scenario, some “evidence,” and a sentence stem to help them write an inference. After weeks of practice, I have seen SO much improvement in my students’ ability to think DEEP.Today, I want share with you how I started “Think Deep Thursday” in my classroom and provide some tips and tricks so you can start it in your classroom!
All you need to start “Think Deep Thursday” is a scenario (text), a plastic baggie (for evidence), and sticky notes (optional) on which students can write their inferences. I write my scenarios on my white board, but you could easily type them up and display them on a projector or a SMARTBoard!
In my altar, I included pictures of my dad and his brothers as children (wearing cowboy hats), a few pictures of my family at our family ranch (my dad was holding a cowboy hat in one hand and a baby longhorn in the other), and a recent photo of the whole family. My food offering included Oreos, M&Ms, and all the leftover chocolate Halloween candy I could find in my house! I decorated the altar with battery-operated candles, sugar skulls, mini paper picadors, and yellow daisies. The finished product was gorgeous.
For the photos I asked them to write down who they saw in the photographs (family), the setting (outside, on a farm, by a barn), and the other items they saw (horses, cowboy hats, fence, cow). Can you guess what their inference was? They inferred my dad was a COWBOY! And gosh, they were right! My dad raised Texas Longhorns. He had a passion for the business and had built up a beautiful herd.
The students were equally successful with making an inference based on the food included in the altar – they inferred that my dad liked chocolate! CORRECT! He might have been the biggest chocoholic in all of Texas… And he definitely passed that on to me!
I truly hope you’ll start “Think Deep Thursday” in your classroom! My students absolutely love this activity, and since it’s waiting on the board when they walk in, it doesn’t take up a lot of class time.
In case you don’t know where to start, I have a few products to help you. I’ve created a Morning Message: Spiral of Essential Skills pack in my TPT store. Mondays review main idea, Tuesdays review character traits, Wednesdays review theme, Thursdays are inferences, and Fridays are context clues. Try out a week for free! I’d love to hear your feedback!
Katie Jefferies has been teaching fourth grade for five years in Texas. In 2012 she was voted “Rookie Teacher of the Year” for Texas City ISD, and in 2015 she was voted “Teacher of the Year” at her school in Galveston, Texas. Katie has a passion for creating engaging and rigorous activities to reach all learners. Find her products in her Teachers Pay Teachers Store, Katie Texas – Rock and Teach.