They're Doing What?! Inferring Behavior

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TSWBAT infer and make comparisons about behaviors they witness on video.

Big Idea

When people do things out of the ordinary, other people take notice....and make inferences!

Warm Up

10 minutes

Although we don't think about it, we're constantly making inferences about behaviors all around.  This lesson is a great opportunity to remind the kids that they're already "inferencing experts."  Presenting out of the norm behaviors is an entertaining and interesting way to help reinforce the meaning of inferencing.

I begin by asking the kids if they've ever judged what people are doing from afar, even if they don't know them, and aren't part of what's going on.  There's immediate laughter/guilty looks/affirmations all around, and I say, "What higher level thinking skill are you applying when you do this?"  No one answers this, not even trying to be funny, which is surprising.  I'm happy to report to them that they are actually making inferences about any given situation, all the time.  I can't help but add, "So, with all of this practice, you ought to be experts at this skill!"

On the Smart Board we write a few examples of inference we can immediately make in the classroom to get warmed up, and I pass out the Inferencing Out of the Norm worksheets for the main activity.

There's not actually text in this lesson -the kids are looking for inferences as they happen rather than coming across an inference while reading.  Kids respond well to changes in routine.


25 minutes

As they view the three videos, they take notes on the Inferencing Out of the Norm worksheet in preparation to create a Venn Diagram using three circles, one for each video.

The videos are pretty short.  The third is the longest at just over 2 minutes.  I show them the first video of the Russian Olympic Torch Swimmers once and have them answer the first two questions: What is taking place in this video/Draw a conclusion as to why this behavior is considered "out of the norm." We discuss a bit, and I replay the video.  This time through, they're writing down observations about what they've seen.


I repeat the process for the second and third videos, but with the third video, I explain that it's an example of student's class assignment to observe other's behavior, which is different than the previous two.  I also tell them about my own experience in a Sociology class when I did cartwheels down the Safeway store aisle while a friend observed the shoppers' reactions.  The students then watch each video, and take down notes.


The final step in this lesson is to compare the three videos they've seen using a 3 Circle Venn Diagram.  We review how the third circle fits in, and it reminds me that I should do more comparisons of three due to the numerous questions to answer, and clarifications to be made about it.  They're then on their own to complete the Venn Diagram.

I also include a second sheet, Drawing Conclusions, that I gave kids the option to complete if they finished early.  It wasn't planned, I just had copies of the graphic organizer on my desk, and it didn't fit the assignment perfectly.  Still, it was interesting to see how they interpreted and filled it out (no two in the same way.)  7/28 kids chose to complete this extra work rather than reading silently. 

Here is a slide show of the images. If you click on the slideshow it takes you to




10 minutes

They want to share these, but there may not be time during this class period.  As it happened today, I had ten extra minutes before the bell rang and we heard a few.  The way I like to close this lesson during the period is by giving the students an opportunity to come up with an (appropriate) action that others would likely make inferences about, if they observed it.  The kids are enthusiastic, even the typically reluctant, about this assignment and really look forward to sharing

I stress that these ideas are not to be attempted at this time as elementary students. However, one day, when they find themselves in a Sociology class, they'll more than likely have a blast coming up with "out of the norm" theories to experiment with. 

Some of their "out of the norm" ideas:

Three ideas: Give out autographs at a workout center; Sprinkle glitter from the top floor of the mall; Wear a tutu and do ballet in a restaurant;

Paragraph form: Take a microwave an run down the street....want people to think (infer) I stole it.  If I got caught by a cop I would say I needed to get stronger for a competition.