Skill #1—Creating Inferences
Start by stating a basic inference about the classroom: “I can infer it is cold in this classroom because everyone is wearing a sweater." Define an inference—a decision, conclusion, or opinion made after considering evidence or facts. Ask volunteers to create their own inferences.
Continue practicing this skill by sharing a collection of photos, paintings, newspaper or magazine articles, or cartoon strips. Place the collections around the room at different stations and allow students to rotate from station to station and hold timed meetings with their group to discuss and list possible inferences and the reasoning behind their inferences. After, take turns compiling a classroom list of inferences for each station.
To extend this lesson, place students in groups, read a picture book to the class, and have them discuss possible inferences for the story with their groups.
Another idea for teaching inferences is to bring in a box wrapped like a gift. Make sure you’ve left something inside so students can shake the box and listen. This way they can form reasons for their inferences. I also like to play games like Taboo, chess, or twenty questions with students. If they can make guesses based on reasoning, then they’re on their way to mastering this valuable reading skill.