When children draw inferences, they make educated guesses about things they observe. Through this process of making inferences, children can make meaning out of things they see instead of simply observing them. Whether teaching your students about drawing inferences as a way to increase the depth of their reading experiences or simply trying to get them to think more critically about the world in which they live, lessons in drawing inferences will surely prove worthwhile.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Comic strips
- Picture books
Define inference. Explain to your students that an inference is an educated guess that you can make based upon observation. Tell your students that to make inferences they will use their prior knowledge as well as things that they witness. Write this definition, along with the two things necessary to make inferences, on the board for students to reference as you move through the lesson.
Give students examples of inference. Make it clear to your learners that observation and inference differ by explaining the concept further with examples. Tell students, for example, that if they read a story about a girl who had a bedroom that was purple and a purple book bag, completed her assignment in purple pen and had a dog named Violet that she dyed purple, you could use that information to infer that her favourite colour is purple. To make it clear that there is a difference between observation and inference in this instance, create a T-chart on your board, labelling the left side "observation" and the right side "inference." Ask your students to list the things that they could observe about the hypothetical girl, for example, that she used purple pen. On the right side, write what these observations allowed students to infer, in this instance, that she is fond of purple.
Ask students to infer based upon observation of comic strip pictures. Clip out single sections of comic strips and remove the words. Give each student or pair of students one of these squares. Ask students to glue their squares down onto paper and write out inferences that they could make based upon the strip images. In doing this, your students not only must look more critically at these comic strip images but also must create meaning, practicing their inference skills.
Practice inference with picture books. Read through picture books with students. At the end of each, ask them to create a list of inferences that they could make about the characters, setting or plot of the book. Complete this process as a whole-class activity, or divide students into groups and have them complete the task.
Instruct students to compose tales featuring characters from stories based on inferences. After reading an assortment of picture books, allow each student to select a character to feature in her own tale. Ask the students to write stories about the characters they chose before or after the original book. Remind students to use inference in composing these tales. For example, if they are writing a tale about a schoolteacher prior to her becoming a schoolteacher, they could infer that she went to college and write a tale about this time in her life. Explain to your students that they could make this inference because they have prior knowledge that teachers must have a college education.
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