I really enjoy teaching inferences. I love how most of the kids start off thinking that making an inference is abstract and difficult, but then later realize it’s something we do everyday. I recently came across Chrissy’s (FREE!) Making Inferences MiniPack – and Wow! What a find! In an attempt to get the kids ready for the Instagram project they will be doing later in the week, I decided to kick off an inference boot camp! We started today with Chrissy’s MiniPack, then later in the week I plan to introduce the mystery Quick Solves. I used the Quick Solves last year during my nonfiction unit, but it works out SO much better now because of Halloween (yay for good timing!).
So, back to the MiniPack. Chrissy suggests handing groups of studens different pictures and asking them where they think they’re going. Each group has a picture that’s relative to camping (sleeping bag, marshmallows, backpack, fishing pole, etc.), but when one pictures stands alone it becomes a bit more vague. The point is to model the idea that the more clues you have, the stronger your inference will be. I loved the idea of this concrete model, but I felt it would be too easy considering the kids and I just got back from a school camping trip. So, instead I put a few pictures on the Smartboard and only spent about three minutes on it.
We then moved on to read a short story about a guy named Frank who saves people in a fire. The story, which I believe Chrissy wrote, is so well thought out – it’s the perfect tool for making inferences. As a reader, you start out being not so sure why Frank is so dirty (Did he get in a fight? Is he poor?), but as the story progresses you pick up more clues and eventually it all fits together. It made for the perfect “Aha!” moment.
For “we do”, I placed the inference task cards around the room and had students, with a partner of their choice, move from card to card at their own pace. Since the cards were laminated, I created a simple answer sheet that prompted students to use the same “I can tell…” format as the cards, though I did add a “because…” to practice citing text evidence. I was originally planning on use the cards for independent practice, but I’m so glad I changed my mind. By having students work in pairs, I was able to hear their discussions as they attempted to solve each card; it was the perfect way to check for understanding as I walked around the room!
To wrap everything up I will be using Chrissy’s independent practice worksheet tomorrow, which asks students to make an inference using their independent reading books. I’m confident the kids will make strong inferences – and it’s only Monday!