Making 'Interactive' Inferences

Every two weeks or so I introduce a new ELA focus to the kiddos.  We continue to practice previous skills being taught, but during those two weeks, there is a primary focus on a brand new skill.
The last couple weeks we have been focusing on the author's purpose...

This week I wanted to talk about making inferences...but from past discussions with  my class, I anticipated this might be a challenging subject for them to grasp.  So I didn't want to just teach them any ol' way about inferences...I wanted to give them INTERACTIVE inferences. :) 

To open the lesson, we talked a little bit about how police officers and detectives solve crimes.  I assigned two students to lead the discussion, which was a beautiful event to witness.  :)  So much of my time this year has been spent working to improve my students social skills and the proper way to interact with one another, and this was the first time I was able to witness their social transition into an "academic" transition (tear...tear...)

Anyhoo...after our discussion, we used a good ol' anchor chart to start jotting down ideas and examples into our ELA binders.  In order to make an inference, we must take what the text states + our prior knowledge in order to figure out the meaning beyond the text.

"Huhh???" Was the reaction I received from most of my students. is where the interactive part came in...I showed the little darlings a picture of a red foot with a white sandal mark.  I asked them to start making inferences about the picture.  At first they were not able to tell me much, and asked for more details...and so I added a beach with a big sun.  Voila!  They students were then able to tell me that the foot was sunburned.  I had the students lead their own discussion as to how they came to that conclusion, and what pieces of information they needed in order to make that inference.

After, we talked about how details are crucial when writing.  The author never wants the reader to get the inference incorrect.  Therefore, the author is going to give us enough information that we will be able to tap into our prior knowledge and put the pieces of the puzzle together.  With this knowledge fresh in their minds, it was their turn to be the "authors"...

My team teacher did this next activity with her students and they loved it, so I thought I would give it a try.  I paired each child up and we went into the hallway.  Once outside, I sent one pair of students at a time into the classroom where they were to pick one item to fit inside of a manila envelope.  On the outside, they had to list four strong, detailed clues for the rest of the class to use in helping them figure out what was inside of the envelope.  The kids had a blast with this activity. :)


Every pair did such a great job picking an item we all had prior knowledge about, and giving very specific details.  We all guessed correctly what was inside of each envelope! Weee...our interactive inferences were a huge success. :)  What are some fun ways you teach inferences, or make hard to understand concepts easier to grasp for your kiddos?

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