Making Inferences about the Character of the Characters in "The Scarlet Ibis"

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SWBAT analyze characters in "The Scarlet Ibis by making an inference chart. SWBAT build vocabulary and usage skills by completing a Frayer Model Diagram.

Big Idea

Dissections aren't just for science --In ELA students dissect characters and use vocabulary development tools.

Do Now

5 minutes

As students come in the room, they find the following prompt on the board:

What is an inference? Think about a story you have read recently, what inference can you make about the speaker or a character in the story.

If they are not sure, I'll clarify that an inference is something that is not directly stated in the text but is implied. The reader makes an inference based on details from the text. I will ask them to create a three column chart that includes the following headings: 1) page number, 2) inference, and 3) textual evidence. I explain to them that today we are going to making inferences about characters in the story, "The Scarlet Ibis."

I chose this lesson because the Common Core standards require students to be able to make inferences about a text and cite evidence (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1), and this chart is a great way to organize their evidence for discussing later.  At some point, I hope that I will be able to pull back this bit of scaffolding and students can make these inferences without placing them in a chart.

This story has a lot of vocabulary that my students may not know, so I will also explain to students that we will use a vocabulary strategy called the Frayer Model diagram to analyze words in the text a bit later in the lesson, so when they come to a word that they don't know, they are going to jot down that word for future use.

This "Do Now" connects to the lesson on inferencing as a way of assessing prior knowledge. Although I know that students should be familiar with it, this is a quick informal assessment to see how much they know about making inferences.

Building Knowledge

15 minutes

For the Building Knowledge section of the lesson, I  will model for students how to make inferences in the text with the first page of "The Scarlet Ibis" because I want to show them what a well-written inference looks like. I'll give them a minute to read the first page. Then I'll re-read the page out loud and model for them how I inferred something about the narrator.




Textual Evidence


The narrator is extremely observant of the setting.

"The flower garden was stained with rotting brown magnolia petals and ironweeds grew rank amid the purple phlox."




As part of this model, I will remind students that when they are citing evidence and quoting from the text, they must use quotation marks.  They will be practicing citing strong and thorough evidence of what the text says and inferences that can be drawn CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1. I will emphasize this because I want them to be able to cite evidence correctly when they discuss literature and write essays in the future. Also, the evidence must support the inference, and they should be able to explain how this is so if asked to share. For example, in my evidence the narrator notices the not-so-nice looking flowers in the garden and he talks about how wild (rank) everything is.

I'll also ask if there is a word from my sentence that they might want to make a note of for the vocabulary activity that we will do later. I might choose the word phlox or rank as my word to remember. This is a way to practice using vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of words in a text CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4.


30 minutes

For guided practice, we will complete one more entry in the chart together for the next page of the story. Students need to make one inference about a character per page, so I will give them a few minutes to read the next page and ask for volunteers to share their inferences and textual evidence. 

In this step, students can choose to use the evidence that someone else in the class gave or their own. I'll allow 3 or 4 students to share their evidence so that they hear a variety of examples of inferences. Then, I do one last check to see if students have questions before I release them to work independently or in pairs for about 25 minutes. 

At this point, based on what I know about my students, I know that there will be some students that will struggle with either the reading of the text or the inferencing, so I spend some time working with them and asking questions that will help them make inferences or find strong evidence. For example, I could use the following example to get them to understand inferencing a bit better:

A student is wearing basketball shoes, a basketball cap, and a jersey.  What inference can we make about the student? We could infer that he/she likes to play basketball. The evidence/support would be the fact that they are wearing the shoes, cap, and jersey. Even though the student did not explicitly state that they play basketball, I could make that inference based on the evidence. I am hoping that this concrete example might help those that still struggle.

Check out this video of some of the students' inferencing and the types of evidence they use to support it.


Building Vocabulary Knowledge

15 minutes

After 25 minutes, I ask a few more students to share their inferences from the application part of the lesson. Then, I'll transition to the building vocabulary knowledge section by asking them if there were words in "The Scarlet Ibis" that they did not know or would have needed to know in order to comprehend the text. I'll list some of the words they come up with on the board.

I'll explain that we will use a vocabulary strategy called the Frayer Model diagram to help build their knowledge of words.  Here's a  Frayer Model Student Example from this lesson. I am using this strategy because I learned about it in a course on multicultural education. It is designed to help students determine the meaning of unknown words CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4 and relate to a concept by finding the definition and providing their own examples and non-examples CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4c. The Frayer Model diagram will help students determine and clarify the meaning of unknown words in order to more fully comprehend a text.

I'll model the completion of the Frayer model using a common term like Thanksgiving. I will ask students to help me add to the Frayer model as I write their responses on the board. I'll ask them to include at least 2 bullet points in all of the quadrants EXCEPT for the definition. I'll give students 10 minutes to complete the Frayer Model diagram individually.

After 10 minutes, I'll assign them to work with a clock partner to share their Frayer model. This way, they will have two completed Frayer models (front and back).  I am asking them to do this because I will be asking them to use vocabulary strategies such as this one to help them build vocabulary all year. I want to make sure this one is in their toolkit for future use.



SSR and closure

20 minutes

For this section of the lesson, I will ask students to read a self-selected text for 20 minutes. As they are reading, they are to identify at least one word to develop a Frayer Model diagram. I am asking them to do this because I want to give them some strategies for building vocabulary when they are working with independent texts CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4 . I'll challenge them to select a word that would be integral to the meaning of the book they are reading.  I'll  also challenge them to use context clues CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.4a  to define the word. This will build their repertoire of vocabulary skills that will help in their reading and writing across texts.

SSR does not happen every day, but I try to give my students exposure to a variety of texts by selecting complex anchor texts AND providing time for self-selected reading. This is one of the ways that we are striving to provide a print-rich environment in our class and promoting the idea that reading is important. Sometimes we read for enjoyment, and other times, SSR allows me to assess how well I have taught a skill by collecting data on how well students can apply those skills to self-selected texts.


For homework, students will complete the story and continue to make one inference about a character per page. I am having them finish this chart because once completed, they will be able to see how the character develops over the course of the text CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3. This is a way to determine whether the character has changed or learned anything as a result of the events in the text. Completed inferencing charts will be submitted during the next class session.