[Literacy Home] [Lesson Design] [Lesson Plan]
[Observations of Student Learning]
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Objective: Students will be able to identify what constitutes a strong inference in order to make evidence-based inferences from informational texts.
Goals / Objectives:
Students will be able to identify what constitutes a strong inference in order to make evidence-based inferences from informational texts.
Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.
Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.
Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Materials and preparation:
- Chart paper, or computer/construction paper
- Graphic organizers and rating scale
- Short nonfictional texts on a topic students are already familiar with
- Images (if applicable)
- Post it notes
Classroom arrangement and management issues:
For the small lesson, teachers will meet with a group of students (4-5). Imaan and Maja will be working with the same five students as they did for their social studies lessons in order to extend students’ knowledge of the content. Maja’s students were initially chosen because they have a range of academic abilities. Dana is working with students in the middle range of the class. The groups will meet in a secondary location so as not to distract or be distracted by the rest of the class. Students will sit around a table in order to facilitate discussion.
Students will only need to bring a pencil with them,, as we will have the rest of the supplies prepared ahead of time. Because the group is small, the instructor can hand out each of the supplies in order to keep this part of the lesson as efficient as possible, or the facilitator can ask for different volunteers to hand out each of the supplies in order to allow students opportunities to move and assist with the lesson (this will depend on grade level and group dynamic).
In order to manage behaviors, we will review small group expectations at the beginning of the lesson. We will reference these expectations throughout the lesson, focusing on who is following expectations. If students repeatedly fail to follow expectations, we will have to revisit them as a whole group. Students will be asked to consider why the expectations are important and evaluate how they have been doing so far with following them.
Based on Maja’s experience leading this small group during her social studies lesson, the management concerns most likely to arise during this lesson are that students may become restless or chatty toward the end. In order to prevent this from happening, she will focus particularly on time management, making sure that students do not spend too long on one activity or conversation. Students will be given post it notes to write down questions or comments throughout the lesson that are not directly related to the conversation.
Lesson Plan: [Total time: approx. 45 minutes]
- We will review what students know about inferences, using the same language our classroom teachers use in order to stay consistent. [Note: we originally planned to jump right into the lesson with a story from the instructor’s life. However, after receiving feedback from Professor Borrow, we agreed that it would be better to start with a quick review of what an inference means and how to make them. This way we can be sure that all students are familiar with inferences before we discuss how to make better ones.] Then, the instructor will share a short paragraph with students describing a particular event in teacher’s life (e.g. riding the bus, walking home, something related to their Thanksgiving…etc.) Ask students to make inferences about the story and support their conclusions with evidence. (e.g. “narrator was not happy that morning because the text says ‘I trudged down the street’.”) Teacher will record students’ inferences on a piece of chart paper using the same format that students will later be asked to use (evidence from text, inferences, rating). [5-7 minutes depending on grade level]
- Introduce the inference rating scale, explaining what each rating means and recording it on chart paper. Revisit the students’ inferences and have the students pick one of them to analyze further. As a group, analyze this inference using the format of the graphic organizer the students will be using later in the lesson (evidence from text, inference, rating), which will act as guided practice. [Note: Originally this discussion about the inferences of the instructor’s story was much more informal. However, Professor Borrow recommended thinking of additional ways to scaffold students’ abilities to make inferences. Thus, by reviewing exactly how we wanted students to make inferences through guided practice, we hoped they would have more success when working independently.] Pay specific attention the rating of the inferences and why students gave a particular inference. [Note: In Maja’s lesson, students seemed to rate their inferences somewhat arbitrarily, so I decided to focus on justifying our ratings. Particularly, I plan to emphasize rooting our justifications in both our prior knowledge and evidence from the text.] [7 minutes]
- Introduce the topic of today’s texts (MP: Japanese internment, IM: WWI, DK: Underground Railroad). Briefly review main points of Social Studies lesson on the topic. Remind the students that they had already seen some material on the topic, “this time we will look at the materials and make inferences about what the character(s) in the document might have been feeling during this experience.” [Note: Based on Professor Borrow’s feedback, we clarified exactly what the students should be making references about rather than just only thinking broadly about inferences. This way the students had more of a focused lens as they read.] [2 minutes]
Body of the lesson:
- Present the first document and hand out graphic organizers (depending on grade level, either hand out or ask a student to hand out print outs of the graphic organizer worksheets. See sample at the end of document). Teacher reads the text out loud because primary source documents are often challenging to read. After asking a guiding question to focus students’ inferences (MP: reasons for Japanese internment, IM: conditions of soldiers in WWI, DK: the experience of traveling via the Underground Railroad), students are given a chance to read the passage over silently and fill in their worksheets with inferences, evidence, ratings, and justifications of rating (if applicable). Before students start working, the teacher will remind them what their strongest inferences from the prior story had in common: they were rooted in evidence. Teacher will go around and monitor students’ progress as they work.
5. The teacher will ask students to share their inferences, evidence, and rating. For inferences that are not properly supported, discuss with students. (how did you get that inference? What in the text made you think [insert inference]?) As a group, students will use signals developed throughout the year (e.g. thumbs up, disagree sign, unsure). [10 minutes]
6. (Time permitting) Give students another document and again share out inferences and discuss as a whole group. [Note: Maja’s lesson ran a little over the allotted time and students seemed to be getting a little restless by the end. As a result, I decided that if time became an issue I would only use one text during the lesson.] [7 minutes]
7. Provide each student with an exit slip. Each student will write down what they thought was the most compelling inference and why. [5 minutes]
Assessment of the goals/objectives listed above:
Because the lesson is discussion based, we will be evaluating the students’ understanding of inferences throughout the entire lesson. Ideally, understanding will improve throughout the lesson, and by the end, all students will have a solid understanding of what makes a good inference. In addition to discussion, students will also fill out a graphic organizer in which they will have to draw inferences from texts and rate the likelihood of this inference. Each student will do this work individually, and the teacher will go around to monitor students’ progress. The group will then come back together and discuss the inferences they made, which will again allow us to gage which students need additional help. Lastly, the lesson will conclude with an exit slip asking students to pick what they think is the most compelling inference that was made and justify what makes it interesting / a good inference. Here, we will be able to determine if the students understand what makes a good inference and if they are able to refer to the text to justify the inferences they make about particular historical events.
Anticipating students’ responses and your possible responses:
Our main approach to addressing management concerns will be by reviewing expectations. We will go over expectations for working in a small group at the beginning of the lesson. We will connect our conversation to the language used in their classroom so that students are familiar with what is being asked of them. Throughout the lesson, we will point out students who are following expectations in order to encourage other students to do the same. If there are repeated issues, we may have to revisit the expectations with the whole group. If the issues are limited to one child in particular, we may need to correct that child, move their seat, or make accommodations based on what we suspect is the cause of their misbehavior (ie. challenge them if the work is too easy or vice versa, or alter the task for them if they’re becoming restless).
Students’ possible responses will vary from lesson to lesson due to the varied content. In terms of inferences, however, it is likely that students will initially draw conclusions based heavily on their preconceived notions rather than on evidence from the text or image. In response, we will acknowledge the prior knowledge that students are bringing to the text and how they fit into this schema, yet we will also have to direct students to the specific text or image we are working with and ask them to find specific information within those sources in order to back up their claims. We will problematize some of the inferences they make, asking them to think about the probability of whether their claim is true. We will also have to repeatedly model how to make strong inferences based on the information given. Essentially, we want students to be able to show us in the text where the found evidence for their inferences and to analyze whether this evidence truly supports their inference.
- If it seems as though the students find the texts too challenging, students will be grouped in pairs (or triads, depending on group size) with each pair in charge of analyzing one portion of the text. If this still proves too challenging, then a shared reading approach may be needed. [Teacher will read text, stopping after a couple of sentences to discuss/simplify.]
2. For students who finish the assigned work early and begin to show signs of boredom, ask the student to try to make an even stronger inference than what they have. [Note: In Maja’s lesson, one of the students finished before all the other students but had only rated his inference a 2. As a result, she asked him to think of a stronger inference, which I felt was a good strategy to help him further develop the skill and stay engaged in the activity.]
Fountas, I. C., & Pinnell, G. S. (1996). Guided reading: Good first teaching for all children. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Stead, T. (2006). Reality Checks: Teaching Reading Comprehension with Nonfiction K-5. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.
Jones, J. L. A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans & the US Constitution. Retrieved from: http://amhistory.si.edu/perfectunion/experience/index.html
Wiggins, G. (1998). Educative assessment: Designing assessments to inform and improve student performance. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.