Dear Mr. Henshaw: Inferencing

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TSWBAT read the story and infer about situations in the excerpt.

Big Idea

Fill in the blanks with inferencing!

Warm Up

10 minutes

Inferencing is a tough skill to master.  It is often paired with drawing conclusions, and the warm up includes both. 

At the top of the worksheet is a definition of both terms: Inferences and Conclusions.  I go over the two with the kids and we read the entire worksheet.  They're invited to highlight what they think is important as we go through it.  The examples are good ones.  I ask the kids to look at me as I read the first one about a women paying for her groceries, then ask them to infer what's going on with her.  A bunch of hands in the air indicate enthusiam and readiness to volunteer inferences.  It's also a nice way to show how there may be more than one inference made about a given situation.  We repeat this with a second example.

There are practice activities on the second page I save for the Closure activity.  It's a good way to see how much of the information they retain after we complete the "Dear Mr. Henshaw" activity in the next section.


30 minutes

Although Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary is a literature novel, for our purposes, we read an excerpt from this Newbery winning book courtesy of our Houghton Mifflin textbooks.  The objective is to make inferences and draw conclusions about the story as well as on a non-related story.  The previous worksheet for the warm up helps the students with the skills, and reading "Dear Mr. Henshaw," is a great way for them to practice what they've learned.

The warm up worksheet indicated that the students understood and felt confident about inferencing, but transferring that understanding to the situations posed about the story proved to be challenging.  It reminded me that this is a skill that can't be practiced enough.  They take it seriously, work hard, and are getting better each day!

In addition to the situations given in the workbook pages, here are some good inference questions to pose to the kids:  

What inferences can you make about Leigh's family based on what you've read?

What do you infer about Mr. Henshaw as you see him through Leigh's eyes?

Make an inference about why Leigh switches from writing letters to writing diary entries.


15 minutes

The students use the practice worksheet from the warm up to show understanding of making inferences and drawing conclusions. This time they are using the second side.

My students are thrilled with this worksheet after a bit of bumbling through the "Dear Mr. Henshaw" workbook pages.  I don't have to answer any questions about the problems on the worksheet, most certainly because they're multiple choice.  With the answers right in front of them, it's a lot easier. 

That being said, with the upcoming PARCC tests, it's a necessary skill to write their complete thoughts and understand what's being asked far beyond making a selection.  In the future, I'll definitely include this worksheet in the warm-up because I didn't feel confident that the follow-up page was of help in understanding their inferencing skills.  This is because I watched the confusion with the challenging written work.

*The answer key is upside down at the bottom of the page, so before making copies I cover it with a post-it.