Inferring while reading includes drawing conclusions and making assumptions about what is implied. These higher-level thinking skills need to be taught explicitly through teacher Think Alouds. Model how to draw conclusions about the text by noting word/verbal and visual clues within the text. However, you don’t need to provide lengthy passages to do this.
Collect a variety of texts
The “text” you provide doesn’t have to be in traditional sentences and paragraphs to allow for students to practice inferring. Readers can infer ideas with any type of “text.” Anything you can read/view and interpret is considered text. Consequently, sheet music is text. Movies and videos are text. Photographs are text. Speeches are text. Artwork is text.
- Signs, cartoons, and bumper stickers.
- Magazine advertisements.
- Comics and editorial cartoons.
- Objects or artifacts (e.g., T-shirts with implied messages or a play on words).
- Product packaging (e.g., the back of a cereal box).
- Check out this “text” I found on the back of a Cheez-it box. Students could practice inferring by rationalizing the names of each of these cheesy characters. They have to use the visual and the verbal clues to justify how the name fits the personality. (You might also show commercial clips from iSpot to view videos of “maturing” cheeses.)
Consider the element of humor when selecting your “texts.” Funny texts are engaging for students. And, if students are engaged, then they are thinking.
Build time into your daily routine
This inferring practice could be added into a literacy station or as a regular aspect of your morning work or bell work. Have a photo, comic strip, or some other short text projected on the board when students first arrive in the classroom. Whether they write down their inferences or just share them orally, be sure to inquire which text clues aided students in their thinking.