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Broaden Definition of Inference
may 14, 2013
Many of our leading experts declare a formula for defining inference. Text Clues + Background Knowledge = Inference. If we agree with that equation, then let’s clarify where text clues come from—the Reading Voice reading the author’s words. And the background knowledge is accessed through the Thinking Voice. Sometimes the Thinking Voice makes connections or predictions or visualizations or asks questions.
Here’s the big idea to grasp—an inference is not a separate type of comprehension thought. Every thought that is the result of combining text clues and background knowledge is an inference. Inferring is simply a synonym for thinking. It’s the umbrella over all types of reader thoughts.
To reinforce this idea, Melissa Morris, instructional coach at Adams Elementary (Indianapolis, IN), created an umbrella-themed bulletin board. The umbrella shows that making inferences is over all the comprehension skills. She wanted her students to understand the significance of inference. (For more classroom bulletin board ideas that convey this same notion, check out the photos submitted by teachers from a variety of grade levels.)
Morris also revised the comprehension songs to match the Carly Rae Jepsen song “Call Me Maybe.” Check out the students performing their Inference Song in this video.