This lesson begins with a table-partner sharing of the inference homework my students completed for vignettes 8-11 from The House on Mango Street (Student Inference Chart 1, Student Inference Chart 2). By allowing my students the opportunity to run their ideas past one another before sharing as a whole group, it
I also find that as students are sharing in pairs, it gives me the opportunity to address any students who did not do their homework because they did not understand it. I have found that for some students, when a task involves self-selecting text with which to work, as this assignment requires, that it can at first seem intimidating. There is either a reluctance to or a fear of taking charge of the literature in this manner, so to speak. If I have a few students who fall under this category, I will group them together and work directly with them for the time allotted for partner work, in order to get them started on the right track and set up to continue on their own as we review and discuss the vignettes as a whole group.
When we reconvene as a whole class to discuss their inferences, I first ask a student to read aloud the vignette to be discussed, in order to put it freshly back into our awareness (because the vignettes are short, it is easy to do this without sacrificing too much time).
At the conclusion of each reading, I ask for volunteers to share both the passages they selected and the inferences they were able to make. This is a practice that reinforces the habit that my students always back up their assertions about a text with evidence from the text. For example, I anticipate that my students will be very successful with making inferences about the character Marin, recognizing that she is a bit edgy and bold in contrast to Esperanza, the protagonist. On the other hand, I am curious to see what passages they choose to work with for their inferences about Gil, the junk store owner, whose detectable traits are presented more subtly in the text. The result of the whole group discussion is a fairly healthy fleshing out of the five characters for the purpose of demonstrating what inferences allow a reader to do with both what is written as well as what is not written.
I close the lesson with the question of why my students think that these particular neighbors are included in Esperanza's chronicles. I ask them how the descriptions of these characters would change if Cathy (from the vignette "Cathy, Queen of Cats") were providing them instead of Esperanza. Finally, I ask my students what they think we learn about Esperanza by her including these characters and her descriptions of them in her story (Know Your Neighbors).