My friends, teaching students to make inferences is one of the hardest concepts out there! Can I get an Amen?! Students are trained to see what is right in front of them, so when they have to take that and read between the lines it is difficult! It is pulling hair out difficult! This is why I started our unit off with an investigation! This activity taught them what inferencing was and stuck it into their brains forever. It has been months since our investigation and they still talk about it! All.The.Time.
It is all about setting the stage to engage, my friends! So, I started off my reading block RUNNING into the room acting all scared! I told the children that a girl was in my class at lunch and she was now missing! I played the terrified role to the best of my ability! I wasn’t 100% sure if they would buy into it, but they did! They were hanging off my every word! I told the students she was in the extra room in our building (we have an extra room, but truly this activity could take place anywhere in the school) and the authorities were on it, but they needed our help since we know the school so well. Then, I handed out magnify glasses and we grabbed our boards to write clues down. (At the time we just used dry erase boards but now I have this FREE graphic organizer for the students) I instructed them to right as many clues down as they could so we could piece together the story.
When they got to the reading room there was crime tape, desks were flipped over, there was paint on the floor, paint foot prints leading into another room, and there was a handprint on the window. The story was the girl was painting when her friends called her to play outside. She did not want the teachers to know so she ran through another room and snuck out the window.
You would have to set up a scene that worked for the layout of your school. The kids walked around and wrote down all the clues they could possibly find. They used magnify glasses and they were going CRAZY about it! They thought they were true FBI and they loved it.
Little did they know this had everything to do with reading. I mean come on kids you really think Miss Friend was just doing this for fun?!!?!
When we returned we worked with groups to use our clues to create the story that we thought happened. We then discussed how each time we looked at a clue we were INFERRING what happened! I used the word 100,000 times during this discussion so that they could really get it stuck in their heads. (I tend to exaggerate a tad bit) I also threw in random clues, like a dog dish, to throw them off the scent! We discussed how in books there are clues that are not always relevant to the story.
I then reveled what really happened and they FREAKED! They were just so excited! After out discussion, we answered some questions to practice what we talked about on paper!
After lots of discussion, we read our first book of the unit and made inferences and we have not stop inferring since.
Let me tell you ever since that day my kids have been inferring geniuses. They know the word and they understand what they are supposed to do. If they forget, I always say “Do you remember when we used clues in the investigation to figure out what was actually happening?”
Go out there and make reading fun, my friends!