I'm 'Curious' About the Inferences & Predictions

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SWBAT use the information from pictures and text to make inferences that demonstrate understanding of the characters and plot.

Big Idea

Curious George wants to know what is the difference is between an inference and prediction?



I chose this book because it's a classic story. I LOVE to read classics to my kids because they are common knowledge and the kids love the stories. Most of my kids remember reading this when they were young, but it's great fun to go back and look at the story from a different perspective.

This is the first lesson that I've taught about inferencing. My goal this year in 2nd grade is to teach students how to use reading strategies to improve comprehension. Grammar and language skills are taught in context of these lessons, which leads to better retention than teaching them in isolation. In this lesson, I'm comparing a new reading strategy (inferring) to a previously taught one (predicting) so student can build upon prior knowledge. Students who can successfully use reading strategies are 'active readers' who continuously evaluate and interact with the text as they read, using evidence from illustrations and text to support or correct their predictions, images, inferences and assumptions. These students comprehend at a deep level and can use schema to build upon what the author presents to fully integrate ideas. Readers who can interact with the text in this way are what the Common Core Standards strive for. Those that use schema to approach and interact with the text as they read come away with an understanding that goes beyond the 'what' and 'who' questions to the 'why' and 'how' questions. These readers can compare texts, analyze the author's purpose, evaluate character and plot changes and comprehend what they have read at a much deeper level.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall.  I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Common starting point

  • "Today we are going to talk about about a reading strategy called inferring. This strategy helps us understand what we read better by helping us make decisions as we read. When we're done reading, we can go back and check our inferences in the text to see if they are right."
  • Refer to the words 'inference' and 'prediction' on the board. "Inferring is a lot like predicting - we are trying to figure something out that happens in the text. Let's compare the two strategies and see how well we can infer and predict as we read a story."
  • "I brought a literature book that you may know - it's about a curious monkey - Does anyone remember a book they read about this?"  Let the kids guess and show the title.


I chose to introduce inference as a comparison to prediction. My students are VERY comfortable with prediction, and it comes easy to them. Asking them to infer is more difficult because they want to tend to predict (think about what will happen on the next page) instead of infer (think about what is happening on the current page). We can start with the idea of prediction and skew it towards the idea of what's happening now, instead of what's happening next. The kids seemed to really understand the idea of inference when compared to prediction.

Teacher's Turn

20 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "Inferring is making conclusions about what is happening in the story as you read. It's sort of like predicting, but we're not thinking about what 'will happen' but we are thinking about what 'is happening'." Here's a look at how I explained the difference between inferring and predicting.
  • "Today we'll think about what 'is happening' to Curious George and make some inferences and what 'will happen' and make some predictions. These will help me to understand the characterssetting and plot better."
  • "Each time that we make inferences and predictions, we'll go back to verify our ideas.  The text and illustrations can show us if they are correct. If we need to, we can fix adjust our inferences/predictions."


Introduce strategy - teacher models

  • "Let's look at the cover of the book. I'm going to infer that 'the monkey is in trouble'. The 'policemen are taking him somewhere' and 'there is a problem with the phone'. I based my inference on the illustrations and the words on that page.
  • "Those are all inferences - I am telling you what is happening now in the story. A good prediction would be that 'next he is going to be in trouble or he is going to jail' because I know that policemen take people to jail."
  • "I'll try a few with the story."  Read to the page that says, 'One day George saw a man'."
  • "I need to look at the text and illustrations and make an inference and prediction.  "I'll infer that 'The man put the hat on the ground for a reason.'  I know that because the text says he placed on the ground by the monkey.  I'll predict that 'George will pick up the hat.'  I know that because the text said that George was curious. Let me read ahead and check my inference and prediction.  I was right - I'll circle my answer. "Here's my modeling discussion.
  • "Let me try one more."  Read to the page that says, 'On the big ship...'.  I'll infer that 'George will talked to the man' because the text says 'George promised'. I'll predict that 'George will get into trouble' based on what I know about George. Now let me check what happened on the next page. George talked to the man." This is how it looked when I was making an inference.
  • "As we read, we should look at the words and illustrations to make good inferences - not just guess but use the text." Here is how I instructed the kids to go back to the text to make inferences.


Practice strategy - guided practice

  • "Let's try one together."  Pass out the worksheet.  Read to the page, 'Man overboard...'  What can we infer?"  (Take ideas - George is swallowing water, He is drowning.)  
  • "Why did we make that inference - what was in the text or illustrations that help us?"  This is a critical part of the guided practice discussion. 
  • Let's try one more. Read to the page that says, 'After a good meal..."  Encourage kids to make an inference and prediction. "Let's verify with the text and illustration. Are we understanding what is happening with the characters? With the plot? We can circle them if they're correct or go back and fix them. Here's how we verified the predictions and inferences.

Take the time to delve into the students' thinking and explain and model your own thinking. Show them how to describe how the characters in a story respond to events and challenges as it is a shift in the Common Core Standards towards using the text as evidence for reasoning. (RL.2.3) Students need to be close readers - those that go back to the text to find information and justify their inferences. There are lots of opportunities in this story to discuss how the monkey, man and other characters react to events. Allow students to see how you model this thinking - "George was naughty so he got into trouble. I know this because the text says 'he was curious' and 'he went with the (police)man'.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • "I'll give you a chance to do some predicting and inferencing yourselves." Remind students about the difference again about predicting and inferring.
  • "I'm going to read through the book and stop at several places. You can make an inference and prediction about what is happening and what will happen. Be sure to use the words and pictures to support your ideas because we'll come back to your inferences and discuss them. If your inference or prediction is not correct, you can fix them on your worksheet ."


Read and Stop for Inferencing/Predicting

  • Read to the following pages** and give students a chance to write inferences and predictions.
    • "After a good meal...."
    • "The next morning..."
    • "Hurry, Hurry, Hurry..."
    • "George wanted to get out"
    • "Down the street"
  • Students work and I read and we discussed the story. I shared my ideas as students inferred and reminded them about changing their predictions and thoughts if the text and illustrations did not support their inferences and predictions.
  • Here's a completed worksheet from one of my students.
  • This is the what the whiteboard looked like when we were done.


Encourage them to make good use of text and illustration clues. This is really the crux of the lesson and how it aligns to Common Core. The Standards are asking students to go back to the text and verify, support, and adjust their thinking as they read. I modeled this earlier in the lesson, but I'll continue to reinforce this skill and encourage students to use the use the text.

**These are the pages I chose to stop at. I would encourage you to read through the story and choose whatever pages you are comfortable with. The text is full of opportunities for inferring and predicting, so take a few moments and decide for yourself and mark the pages where you want to stop.

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes

Verify and Correct

  • Let's go back one more time and see if our inferences and predictions were correct." This is how I tasked the students to reflect on correct inferences and predictions.
  • "Use your pencil and circle the ideas that were correct."
  • "I noticed that many of you had a few inferences and predictions that we not right. As you read, what happens when you have to change your inferences and predictions?"  Take ideas - you are working toward the idea that it makes you an active reader - it makes you more involved in your reading... "


Put your ideas to work

  • "Now it's your turn to be the author. On the back of your paper, you need to draw a picture and write one sentence about what happens to George at the zoo. Then we are going to pass it to your neighbor to make an inference and prediction about your picture."
  • Here is a completed drawing and another completed drawing of my student's work.

Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

There is a lot of writing in this lesson, so students with academic challenges probably need to work in a group with another student or in a group with teacher. They may be able to contribute verbally, but may need spelling help on their whiteboard or prompting for the writing.

Those with more academic ability should be able to use higher language and vocabulary. Instead of saying that 'the monkey was on a boat' the student could say 'he was sailing on a yacht or ship'. Challenge those students to use that vocabulary to more fully describe the inference or prediction.