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Prompt Readers When Their Inferences are Off Track
To infer, readers figure out bigger ideas implied by an author by combining multiple details from the text with their own background knowledge. However, sometimes students draw conclusions about the text that are way off track.
For example, when learning about the Underground Railroad, many students immediately presume that there will be a train. Despite all the other facts and details and discussion within the unit, they inferred there will be a “train” because of the single clue of “railroad.”
In these instances, rather than telling students the correct answer, guide them to see their own misunderstanding. This process requires a couple key instructional points.
Despite all of this explicit instruction, expect that students will still occasionally offer inappropriate, inaccurate, or left-field inferences. Rather than telling them they are wrong, prompt them when they are off track.
- I see what you’re thinking, but what about this detail…
- I agree, but look at page ___ where…
- I’m confused about something. Let’s look at what the author said.
This prompting process typically helps students discover for themselves when their inferences are off track.