Focus Question: How does inferring give readers a better understanding of nonfiction texts?
Choose a poem that supports inferences, such as “Smart” by Shel Silverstein, and read it aloud. (Different poems can be substituted to increase text complexity and analysis requirements.) Explain to students that an inference is an idea that is based on more than what the words say directly.
- As you read, model thinking and making inferences about the character.
- Point out that you made the inference based on what you know from your past experiences and key ideas and details that the author gives in the text. Explain that students’ experiences could be things that have happened to them or someone they know or things they have read about or seen on TV or the Internet.
Write the following guidelines on the board/interactive whiteboard or make an anchor chart to hang in the classroom:
When making inferences, strategic readers
- pay careful attention to the words the author uses
- look closely at the pictures
- use their own experiences
- take their time
- think carefully
Ask students what they can infer from each of the following sentences. Guide students to explain how their experience leads them to that inference. Provide students with additional examples if necessary.
- Beth’s running shoes are very white, and the laces are very clean.
(Beth has new shoes. When I get new running shoes, they are always very clean and white the first time I wear them.)
- Tom wrinkled his nose when his mom put the peas on the table.
(Tom doesn’t like peas. My sister doesn’t like broccoli, and when my mom puts it on the table for dinner, my sister wrinkles her nose.)
Give each group of three or four a set of cards from the inferring game (L-3-4-2_Inferring Game and KEY.docx). Tell students to place the cards face down on a desk. Have each student take a turn choosing a card and making an inference about the sentence. Encourage students to tell what experience they have had that helps them make the inference.
Read aloud “An Opossum Named Poppy.” (You may choose another text to meet the needs of text complexity for students.)
Use the guidelines (in Part 2) to model the inferences that you would make while reading the book.
Have students complete the Inferring Practice worksheet (L-3-4-2_Inferring Practice Worksheet.docx). Observe students and provide additional instruction if necessary.
- Students who need additional opportunities for learning can work in guided groups to read level-appropriate poetry. Have students infer the title of the poem or use the poetry to make other inferences.
- Students who are ready to go beyond the standard can read a nonfiction book at their reading level. Provide sticky notes for students to identify inferences in the book. Have students explain key ideas and details from the text and their own experiences that led them to their inferences. Encourage students to share their inferences with the class.