To begin our lesson on inferencing, I show scholars a picture of my kitchen, covered with food. This is a great way to hook scholars and establish a personal connection with them. I ask scholars to make a guess about how the food got on the table. Scholars have 2 minutes to independently think and jot down their ideas. Some scholars need a bit of wait or think time before they have the opportunity to chat with a friend. This is especially true of struggling learners or ELL scholars. After the 2 minutes, scholars have 1 minute to discuss possibilities with their friend sitting next to them.
Then, I pull two friends from my cup to share their guesses. Finally, I have 3 volunteers share their thoughts. Scholars get pretty creative here, spend some time really developing the potential scenarios that could have resulted in the picture.
Once scholars share & we discuss, I ask them to think about how they generated their guess. I say, What made you think it was a surprise party? - or whatever the guess was. Usually scholars say that they saw something in the picture that gave them a clue, or perhaps someone recently threw a surprise party for a relative. I explain that when we make inferences (or educated guesses) we use what we know about life & our personal experiences and clues from the text.
Giving scholars concrete practice with inferencing in a low-stakes environment helps them to gain confidence & be more successful with the skill.
I begin the explicit teaching today with a brief review of our steps to create a strong response. Scholars review bookmarks by re-reading each step. This helps to remind scholars what we did yesterday and gear them up for our lesson today.
I explain that we've been learning how to create strong responses to explicit questions - that means the answer is right there in the text. Today, we're going to create strong responses to implicit questions. To do this, we must infer. Inferencing is NO BIG DEAL because we just inferred how all that food got on my counter! - I like to ham this part up a bit to make scholars feel really good about themselves and this skill. This is a tough skill and many scholars are already intimidated when you say the word inference, so this is a great way to build confidence!
First, we make a foldable to record our questions, quotes & answers (click here for a how-to video). We record the all questions in our foldable to ensure that all scholars have the right questions and understand what each question is asking of them.
Then, we chorally read the first question on our foldable: 1. Who is the child who helped Arnold? How do you know? Next, we do a cloze reading of chapter 5 to answer this question. After we read, I explicitly model how to use my bookmark to answer the first question on the foldable. I model how to read the question, underline key words and phrases, generate my answer, search the text for support and then link my quote to the answer.
Scholars work with a partner to read chapter 6 of Maniac Macgee and answer the two questions below:
1. What happened when Mrs. Pickwell whistled? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
2. How did the Pickwell kids feel about Maniac running on the trail? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
The reason why I give them time to practice with a partner is so that they can have some practice with the support of a friend before they have to demonstrate this skill completely independently. It allows me to pair scholars up to help support certain scholars. It also enables me to provide on-the-spot feedback to students and get a quick pulse-check of where we are as a team.
During this time scholars rotate through 2 stations.
I start the time by reviewing our checklist items for the week and explicitly state what should be completed by the end of the day. This holds scholars accountable to their work thereby making them more productive. Today, scholars will complete a foldable answering questions that require inferencing from Maniac Macgee (chapters 7-9).
Then, the ELL teacher and I share the materials that our groups will need to be successful (i.e. a pencil and your book baggies). Then, I give scholars 20 seconds to get to the place in the room where they will be for the first rotation. The first scholars who are there with all materials they need receive additions on their paychecks or positive PAWS.
During the rotations for this lesson, my small group objective today is to support answers to implicit questions in the text with quotes from books that is on each group's highest instructional level. Scholars read a portion of the same book (different for each group depending on reading level, but the same text is read in each group). Then we discuss answers and find quotes that are related to those answers.
After the first rotation, I do a rhythmic clap to get everyone's attention. Scholars place hands on head and eyes on me so I know they are listening. Then they point to where they go next. I give them 20 seconds to get there. Again, scholars who are at the next station in under 20 seconds with everything they need receive a positive PAW or a paycheck addition. We practice rotations at the beginning of the year so scholars know if they are back at my table, they walk on the right side of the room, if they are with the ELL teacher, they walk on the left side of the room and if they are at their desks, they walk in the middle of the room. This way we avoid any collisions.
In closure, scholars find a quote that best describes John McNab. This helps some scholars who are still struggling with the idea of what a quote is - some scholars think it is actually dialogue in the text. This is a super quick way to evaluate if scholars know what a quote is and how to find a relevant quote. The reason why I did this closure today is because I noticed the misunderstanding yesterday.