While inferences and conclusions are closely related, there is a difference. Inferences are made based on facts within a piece of text and are typically simple without the need for deep thought. For example, you place a pizza delivery order at 4:30 and they say it will be delivered in 30 minutes or less. You can infer that you should have your pizza pie by 5:00.
Conclusions are more in depth than an inference and use critical thinking skills. You may be given clues throughout a book leading you towards the solution to a murder mystery, but you’ll have to draw your own conclusion if the book doesn’t come out and give you the answer directly.
Tell students that you will be learning about the reading strategy of drawing conclusions. Assure them that they actually use this reading strategy every day. Ask them to imagine that they’re walking down the street and come across a house with overgrown grass that reaches waist-height, no lights in the windows, and paint that is peeling off the siding. Ask students what conclusion they might draw about the house. (They will probably answer that the house is deserted, and has been for a long time.)
Point out to students that they had reasons to support their conclusions. Emphasize that having support for your conclusions is an important aspect of drawing conclusions. Give students an example of a conclusion that doesn’t have enough support, such as “The house is haunted" or “The owner of the house lived centuries ago."
Using a Graphic Organizer
Draw a graphic organizer on the board consisting of several squares connected with arrows to a larger rectangle. (You may want to place the rectangle above the squares to show that the information in the squares “supports" the conclusion.) Explain to students that in order to draw a conclusion (point to the rectangle), you need to make sure to have plenty of support (point to the squares). Fill in the graphic organizer based on the example in the previous section, with “The house is deserted" in the rectangle and the supporting ideas in the squares. In the following link there are several templates for graphic organizers you can hand out to your students.
Conclusions from Movies
Students probably use the drawing conclusions strategy most often when they watch movies. Bring in a movie with an enjoyable scene that students can draw conclusions from (most movies will have a scene like this). Let students watch the movie and then work in groups to draw one or more conclusions from what they’ve watched. Encourage them to fill out a graphic organizer about one of their conclusions and emphasize the importance of basing their conclusion on facts from the movie.
Conclusions from Texts
Of course, the purpose of all of these activities is to teach students how to draw conclusions from texts. Choose a text that you’ve already discussed to make this process easier for students the first time. Help them to use the graphic organizers to draw conclusions from the text. When they are successful, encourage them to use the same process to draw conclusions from an unfamiliar text.
Now that you know how to teach drawing conclusions, it’s important to make sure to give your students plenty of opportunities to practice their newly learned skill. As you read new texts in class, ask students to use their graphic organizers to draw conclusions about what they have read.
This post is part of the series: Reading Strategy Lesson Plans: Making Inferences and Drawing Conclusions
- Inference Games and Activities
- Lesson Plans on Reading Strategies: Drawing Conclusions
- Activities for Drawing Conclusions
- Teaching Students to Make Inferences