[Literacy Home]     [Lesson Design]     [Lesson Plan]
[Observations of Student Learning]
[Reflections on and Analysis of Teaching]     [Reflection and Planning]

Objective: Students will be able to identify what constitutes a strong inference in order to make evidence-based inferences from informational texts.


Follow Up Lesson
For the most part, the students in my group seemed to understand how to use evidence from the text to make inferences but struggled with rating these inferences and defining what exactly an inference is. As a result, I would follow up this lesson with a lesson about where different inferences would fall on the rating scale and discussing what makes some inferences stronger, or more likely, than others.

For example, I could make a list of many different inferences based on a single passage and ask students to rank the inferences according to the “Inference Rating Scale.” Ideally, I would use student examples, but because many of the students gave very similar inferences for both my Thanksgiving story and the Underground Railroad narrative, I would have to add additional ones to the list. After ranking the inferences, we could then discuss why we ranked inferences the way we did (i.e., why is one inference “very likely” while another on is “not likely,” etc.) and what elements make some inferences stronger than other. From this discussion, I would hope that students understand that strong inferences draw conclusions based on both what the text explicitly says and on what the readers already know about the world.

Finally, once students seem to have an understanding of how to make strong inferences, we would revisit the definition of inference. Often, I find it is easier to remember the meaning of a concept once I have already applied that meaning. Thus, students should already understand what an inference is, and now I will remind them of the vocabulary to express its meaning.

After a more in depth conversation about inferences, this exit slip, which we originally planned to use, would be a more meaningful evaluation of student learning.
After a more in depth conversation about inferences, this exit slip, which we originally planned to use, would be a more meaningful evaluation of student learning.

The last step of the follow-up lesson would be to revisit the graphic organizers. I would ask students to revisit their ratings, change them if necessary, and justify why they chose a particular rating. I would also ask students to make additional inferences and fill in the remainder of the chart. If students still seemed to be struggling to understand, we would take time to discuss in more detail what it means. That way, comprehending the narrative would not interfere with their abilities to make inferences and their worksheets would reflect their understanding of the lesson. After discussing these inferences, I could then give students our original exit slip, which asked students to chose the inference they thought was the best and explain why they thought so.

 

Re-teaching this Lesson
Although I decided to focus more on the rating scale after observing Maja’s lesson, it seems that the students in my group still did not fully understand how to rate their inferences. As a result, if I were to teach this lesson again, I would focus even more on what each individual rating means and why a particular inference would have that rating. For example, as explained in my follow up lesson discussion, I think it would have been a good idea to have students rank a variety of inferences based on the “Inference Rating Scale” and then, justify their ratings.

Because the Thanksgiving story was fairly easy to understand, I think it would be best to make these inferences about this passage, and I would make sure each student had a copy of the passage to reference. I would ask all students to share a couple inferences, explaining that they can fall any where on the scale. At first, most students would probably give likely inferences, so I would also contribute to the discussion to make sure all four ratings were covered. Once a range of inferences was shared, preferably between eight and twelve inferences total, we could cut them out and physically rank, or categorize, them according to the rating scale. In doing this activity, I would hope that students would get a better understanding of the types of inferences that fall into each category.

After ranking the inferences, we would discuss why particular inferences fell into different categories and what differentiated a strong, or “almost certain,” inference from an inference that was given a lower rating. In this discussion, students would continue to expand their understanding of what constitutes a strong inference.

Only after students seem to have a good understanding of what an inference is and how to make strong inferences would we further apply this information. Most likely, this application would have to occur in a second lesson. However, dividing our lesson into several lessons might actually help students to better learn the material because they would be revisiting the content across multiple days.

The second part of the lesson would consist of analyzing the primary source document. Because this would exist as an isolated lesson, we would also have time to further analyze the meaning of the document before drawing inferences from it. This way, the meaning of the text would no longer inhibit students’ abilities, and they would be able to focus on making inferences rather than the meaning of the narrative. Furthermore, by discussing the primary source document in a second lesson, we would have more time to discuss the students’ inferences and their ratings. Here, I would be able to judge if students seemed to understand the material or if I needed to revisit making evidence-based inferences from informational texts in another lesson. If students seemed to have a decent understanding of the lesson, I would give them the initial exit slip, which asked students to chose the inference they found most compelling and justify why they chose that inference. This would serve as an additional evaluation of student understanding.