As a hook into today's lesson on supporting inferential points or claims, I project a strange (and therefore amusing) image onto the board with the head, "what's going on here?" While I take attendance, I ask students to brainstorm possible answers.
"The bus is a bridge."
"The road washed out."
"The driver fell asleep at the wheel."
Fine assertions, I say (with a chuckle), but what proof do you have?
Now students must closely analyze the image. The water and mud running under the bus support the wash out theory, as does the position of the bus. It would be unlikely that a bus driven off the road would travel horizontally across the water rather than down into the water. Of course, there's still the matter of why the bus didn't get washed away, too, but without more information on what caused the wash out, we cannot ascertain the truth.
I offer my congratulations to the class--they've just successfully supported an inferential point with evidence from a text.
"You're so sneaky, Mrs. B," they laugh. Indeed, I am.
Our first practice complete, I move into the actual target. What am I looking for? Using my prepared PowerPoint, I [re]introduce the concepts of explicit and inferential statements and the importance of supporting statements with evidence from a text.
While the standard calls for both types of points, my English department decided to focus more on inferential analysis as it is generally more challenging for students. Proficiency requires an inferential point with support from the text, including, as appropriate, ambiguous details.
I model how I would make an inferential point and support it using a non-fiction text (the standards are exactly the same) and then ask students to work with their groups to write an inferential statement about their novels. I circulate to check in their work and offer feedback.
The number one question: how do I make a point about the novel? I offer a variety of possibilities: evaluate the novel (how effective was the climax/conflict/character); analyze a character for motivation (why does he/she behave as he/she does); or analyze for author intent (why did the author start this way).
While my more specific questions help, some students still find the skill challenging:
Once groups are checked in, I instruct them to move into project work. They now have all the skills they need to succeed and can put together their final plans for the project.
I offer my final hints for success: use the practices we've completed on theme analysis, summary, and making and supporting a point as the outline for your project and, of course, REVISE based on my feedback.