We Are Inference Experts!

Last week we wrapped up our mini unit on making inferences.  We will revisit making inferences again in February but I knew I needed to tackle this a bit early with my group this year.  Some of them are such advanced “thinkers!” They did a fabulous job with all of our activities.

We started by understanding what an inference is.  We used the thinking stems on the anchor chart to begin our thoughts when we discussed our inferences aloud.  I had 2 rules. #1: They had to verbally answer or speak in a complete sentence. #2: Their thought had to begin with one of the thinking stems on our chart. This really helped my students clearly and completely express their thinking about the texts we studied. 

I kicked off every mini-lesson during the first week with a piece of Mystery Mail.  You can find this adorable activity from Clutter-Free Classroom by clicking HERE.  

Every day for a week, I presented the kids with a letter I had written from different staff members at our school. I blocked out the name of the person who had “mailed” us the letter. I also printed off three pictures or clues the mystery person had included in his or her envelope.  
This activity turned out to be super effective because it allowed for ALL of my students to have an equal opportunity to succeed. They could all use their prior knowledge to make inferences about who sent the letter since every student is familiar with our school and staff. They used clues from the text and the pictures to figure out who sent the letter AND how they came to their inference. 
Of course we also used plenty of poetry every day to make inferences.  I blogged about this book last year but I have to post about it again. The book below is FABULOUS for inviting your students to make inferences.  I especially love the poems, “Things” and “Rope Rhyme.”
Click the picture to head to Amazon.
After every mini-lesson, my students completed this Exit Slip to make and explain an inference they made with that day’s text.  You can click the picture below to download a copy of the exit slips from Google Docs. 🙂
We extended our study on inferences during our small group reading lessons. We used close reading to understand, think, and analyze different text passages.  Here, one of my little kiddos is making an inference on a post-it note and underlining the evidence and clues from the text that he used to make his inference.  Having your students “mark up the text” really provides you with an idea of how they are drawing conclusions and lets you see exactly which parts of the text they are tuning into. 
In the second week of our unit, we had some fun with inferences! On Day 1, I introduced my students to some new characters or friends for the week using Rachel Lamb’s Unwrap an Inference! A Great Gift Mix-Up Activity for Christmas!  Find her adorable unit by clicking HERE. Students met all of the characters involved in the mystery.  After learning about their hobbies, they each picked a character and inferred what he or she might want for Christmas (and why, of course!) Oh my, was this little mystery activity fun!  
On Day 2, we used the clues on the gift tags and matched them to the correct characters.  For example, one gift tag said “For our fashionista!”  My students had to infer that this gift tag belonged to Olivia, because we know that she loves to go shopping at the mall AND she is a girly-girl!  (During week 2, my students had to give me a double-whammy inference with TWO accurate reasons or evidence for their inference.) 
On Day 3, we had fun matching up the presents to the correct character!  Toward the end of the activity, I matched one of the gifts up incorrectly.  This really made my students work together as a class to problem solve and use their critical thinking skills to correct my mistake. 
We had so much fun making inferences and my students did really well applying our new reading strategy to different situations and texts.  Inferring is one of my favorite reading strategies to teach and it is so relevant to our everyday lives.  It is a strategy that helps students understand how to really dig into a text and think about how the events, characters, and details are all related to one another.  
Thank you so much for catching up with what we’ve been doing in our reading block lately! 
“I infer it is time to go to bed because my eyes are getting tired and I just clicked through an infomercial on the television.”  😉

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