Introducing the Art of Inference

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SWBAT read a series of vignettes from The House on Mango Street and make inferences about certain characters by focusing on key passages.

Big Idea

Laughing with all your teeth: Teaching students to read what is not written.

Introducing Inference

15 minutes

The next development in my students' journey towards becoming better readers, having been introduced to the practice of identifying voice, tone, and mood, is to explore the art of making evidence-based inferences.  This is a practice that addresses the Common Core shift towards requiring students to develop text-based answers.

I begin this lesson with the Inference Graphic Organizer, which provides a definition of the concept, as well as an example scenario.  We read this as a whole class and discuss what can be inferred by the scenario. I point out to my students that they really make inferences all the time, and use the example of knowing when it is a good time to ask their parents for permission for something, or for money, and when it is not a good time to ask.  Most of the time, I tell them, your parents are not wearing a sign that says "I'm in a bad mood," but you can infer what mood they are in by working with the evidence they provide.

Additionally, we add the words inference, implicit, and explicit to the week's vocabulary list.

Making Inferences With The House on Mango Street

55 minutes

From the introduction of inference, we move to applying the practice of making inferences to passages I have selected from vignettes 5-7 of The House on Mango Street.  We read each vignette as a whole class, with students volunteering to read aloud, and then I ask them to make inferences about the characters listed on the graphic organizer, based on the passages I have included (Student Inference Chart).  

By approaching inference-making as a whole class first, it provides an opportunity for students to share their inferences under my guidance, allowing me to steer them, if necessary, towards sound inferences or away from potential misinterpretations.  

During the last ten minutes, I have students copy the Inference Chart for homework and explain to them that they will be reading the next four vignettes on their own (#s 8-11) and selecting their own passages that they believe allow them to make accurate inferences about the characters listed on the chart (anticipating confusion, I do explain that "Louie's girl cousin" and "Marin" are the same character, and that they will be completing two entries for her, each from separate vignettes).