This inference lesson integrates a student's creative writing with the skill. They enjoy bringing the two together. Although they are inferencing often, I want them to practice frequently so it becomes a skill that doesn't intimidate. With CCS, our students have the opportunity to focus on upper level thinking in a way they never did before. Inferencing is a skill that will aid them in many aspects of life, and when they leave my 5th grade, I expect their ability to be proficient.
The students read and make inferences on practice sheets to review the meaning of inference and recognize how to draw conclusions using textual cues. Inference Practice: Who Am I? Some kids volunteer to contribute to the "Inference Clues" Smart Board as they come across key words, or inferences themselves. Most kids were more interested in completing their work then running up to the Smart Board. It's amazing how four years of this technology has made it run of the mill. I think about my kids in the first two years, and it was nearly impossible to keep them away!
After they've finished with the practice sheets, it's time to connect the inference practice with Literature. The students read two passages from, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and write inferences for two questions from each. They are creating writing pieces that encourage readers to make inferences because you can't WRITE an inference.
This is a model for their next assignment. They must write a story that contains inferences. This can be tricky because they're creating writing pieces that encourage readers to make inferences knowing they can't WRITE an inference, just identify them. This story may be based on a known piece of literature, such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or they can create their own. The stories must be at least 3/4 of the page in length so there's room to contain more than one inference.
Once they're finished with their story, they go back to what they've written and determine inferences they can use to develop questions. When they read the model passages, they answered inference questions about the text. As they are now the authors, it's up to them to know the inferences they created. They don't fill in answers for these questions because that will be completed in the Closure activity by another student.
*A wonderful resource for many more inference practice ideas can be found here.
Collect all of the Inference Stories and mix them up. Pass them back randomly to everyone, asking them to trade if they get their own Inference Story back by coincidence.
When everyone has a classmate's story, they quietly read the passage in front of them, then go back and answer the provided questions. Before they begin, I tell them when they go to answer the question, they must also ask themself if it's a knowledge question (they can find the exact answer in the text) or a true inference (they must draw conclusions about how to answer based on the text.) This is a good chance to peer edit such work and mark these questions as knowledge or inference based.
Student Example 3 with "reader's" notes
When kids write their inference questions, they often don't do it correctly. I like to review just the writing of inference questions when time permits. This can be done by asking them to look around the room and write questions about what they think is going on. Once we go through their questions and determine that they are correctly written, I remind them they just wrote a bunch of inference questions. It's not that they CAN'T do it, they just need practice. Knowledge based is basic and it's easy to go basic.
To sum it up...readers first determine whether or not the questions are inference based and change them to inference based if they are not. They then answer the question as it was originally written, and leave the inference question they correctly wrote for the owner of the story to answer.