New Ideas for an Inferring Unit

This week I have a group of students who are going to move into inferring. Last year, this was one of the best units I taught. I loved watching students make connections between their background knowledge and what they could out of the text. This year, I'm looking to expand what I used.

Why do Student's Need Inferring:

All reading is an active, reflective, problem-solving process. We do not simply read words; we read ideas, thoughts that spring from the relationships of various assertions. The notion of inference equations is particularly powerful in this regard. Readers can use the notion of inference equations to test whether or not the ingredients for a given inferences are indeed present. To show lying, for instance, a text must show that someone made a statement that they knew was incorrect and that they made that assertion with the specific purpose of deception. If they did not know it was wrong at the time, it’s an error, not a lie. If they did not make the statement for the specific purpose of deception, we have a misstatement, not lying.

How Can Inferring Help Writing:

The notion of inference equations is equally useful for writing. Writers must assure that the ingredients of the equation are present and clear, and that the desired relationships are signaled in a clear and effective way. As writers, we must be aware that our readers will interpret our thoughts.

We must strive to make our meaning as clear as possible. We must provide sufficient examples to make our ideas clear, as well as to short-circuit undesired interpretations. We must recognize what evidence is necessary and sufficient for our purpose, and assure that it is included.

And we must choose our terms carefully for accuracy and clarity of meaning, and spell out our exact thoughts in as much detail as possible. We must recognize biases our readers might bring to the text and explain and support our evidence as much as our conclusions. The advice: Buy diapers.

I think I'm going to start out with this video. This video is about synthesizing is closely linked to evaluating. This is a great way to show students how thinking should change as we read...often to a deeper understanding. As older students read more complex plots they will learn to expect the unexpected, inferring meanings and pick up on foreshadowing.


This will make a great opening to the week and help them think outside the box.

From the video, what else do I need to do. Well, I want proficient readers. Proficient readers understand that writers often tell more than they actually say with words. They give you hints or clues that allow you to draw conclusions from information that is implied. Using these clues to “read between the lines” and reach a deeper understanding of the message is called inferring.

Students need to learn how to infer so that they can go below the surface details to see what is actually implied (not stated) within the words of the story. Some meanings are meant to be implied – that is not stated clearly but they are hinted at. When meanings are implied, you have to infer them.

Students make inferences every day without even thinking about it. For example, you can ask children to imagine they are sitting at their desk doing their homework when they hear a loud booming sound and hear pattering against the window. They don’t actually see anything, but they can infer there is a thunderstorm outside. All students recognize the sounds of thunder. They know heavy rain makes a pattering sound. And they know that any time the two go together there is almost a thunderstorm going on.
Inferring with context clues

One way students can infer a word meaning is from context clues within the text. Students have to learn how to work out meanings from these clues. There’s several ways to do this.They can simply make an educated guess using the hints given before the unknown word and the sentences that follow the word. Asking questions is one way to unravel these clues.

I have some ideas for guided reading:
These questions will be very helpful while we are reading to work through unknown words and what they mean. During the guided reading session, the teacher should have these question stems available when students find a word they don’t know the meaning of.   The teacher pauses the reading and chooses the appropriate question to ask.
“What do you think the word means considering (a certain action or event) has happened?
“How do you know that the word means (insert definition)?”
“What part of the text helps you make this inference?”
“Where can you find other clues to help you understand?”
“If you substitute what you think is a similar word, would the sentence still make sense?”

My goals for my students include:

  • Draw conclusions about their reading by connecting the text with their background knowledge
  • Synthesize new ideas and information
  • Create unique understandings of the text they are reading
  • Make predictions about the text, confirm or disconfirm those predictions based on textual
  • information, and text their developing comprehension of the text as they read
  • Extend their comprehension beyond literal understandings of the printed page
And thinking stems to help my learners:

  • “Even though it isn’t in the picture, I can see the…”
  • “Mmm, I can almost taste the…”
  • “It sent chills down my spine when it said…”
  • “For a minute, I thought I could smell…”
  • “I could hear the…”
  • “I can imagine what it is like to …”
  • “I can picture the…”
These are going to be great additions to my inferring unit this week. Have a great week.

Currently in January--freebie

It's hard to believe that it's 2014. Wow! Where did it go??  It just flew by. I have much to be thankful for this past year from achieving my National Boards in Exceptional Needs and finishing my endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education. I know that if my friends and family were not in my corner they may not have happened. This is a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn't work last year.

More importantly, its the family I work with daily at school that helped guide me into be a more reflective and stronger teacher than what I was the year before. That's what makes this hard--early last week a close friend that I work with passed away. She helped me be a better teacher each day I walked in.

As a National Board Teacher, reflecting on my practice is more a matter of course than an event. I can't wait to get back and change things up for my students before state testing begins in six weeks. (Yes, really. I know. OMG!) My students had some great gains the first part of the year. Now I just have to maintain it and go just that much further.
Today, I'm working through the pile and list that I brought home with me while I listen to the TV. I work best with noise. I tend to have my TV on all the time. My mom wonders how I'm able to get anything done but I need that noise.

I loved spending the last two weeks with my family and friends, for our first Christmas in the mountains. Mind you I have lived in Colorado for 30 years. It was even white--that doesn't happen much in town. After breakfast, we went snowshoeing. Yes, dogs and all.

I have about a third of "Catching Fire" to finish. I want to finish it before next week. If I don't it could be sometime before I get it done.

I have six weeks to get my third grade students ready for state testing and 8 weeks for fourth to sixth graders. Rumor has it that we are giving PARCC in science and social studies on the computers on top of CTAP. I have no clue when or who. So much fun:)




I would be nice if I could finish all the projects that I planned to get down over the two weeks but I'm not sure that going to happen. I have a sight word freebie for you.

For those traveling, be safe. Have a great last few days of break if you don't have to go back until Monday.



About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I'm Ms. Whiteley. I teach in the beautiful Mile High state--Colorado. This is my 13th year teaching in an rural K-6 Elementary school as a Exceptional Needs Teachers. As Exceptional Needs National Board Certified Teacher, I believe that ALL students can learn and be successful. When I'm not in school, I love to take my two Italian Greyhounds hiking 14ers and reaching for the stars. Thanks for Hopping By.
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