Rewind... A few months ago, the focus in a couple of the classrooms I was working in was making inferences. At the time, I offered (to my coteachers) to create an Inference Concentration (Memory) game.
I wanted to make the game a bit challenging, so I chose six overall topics (example: a boy is drawing), and I created three matches for each topic.
Not only did the students really enjoy this game, but they did a great job, too! As the classroom teacher and I traveled around the room, monitoring the games being played, we observed students reading carefully and listening (even when it wasn't their turn!). We also noticed how cooperatively the students were working.
Fast forward... Last week, I was working with two small groups of students (three fourth grade boys and one fifth grade girl), who were struggling readers - and also happened to be ELLs. Each group needed additional practice in "reading between the lines", so I found myself looking through my inferencing resources for something that might "reach" them. I glanced at my Memory game, and my initial thought was No... too difficult. But a moment later, I realized Wait a second! These little stories are the perfect length... I can totally use these in a different way!
With that, an idea was born...this is how I used the resource for my struggling readers:
First, for each student, I photocopied a set and cut it into its individual cards. Now each student had a set like this:
During my next time with each group, I handed each student a set and instructed them to find the six cards that were labeled with a 1 in the bottom right corner, and lay them flat on the table. Soon they had six cards in front of them - three with an identical image (and different sentences below the image), and three with short passages (see photo below). We read the sentence on each "picture card", and I explained that each "story card" would match one of the sentences on the picture cards. I also told them that we would need to INFER to find the right matches... the author wouldn't come right out and tell us; rather, we would need to use text clues to determine which card matched.
|A set of 6 cards - each "story card" matches 1 "picture card".|
I then instructed them to find the card labeled 1A. We read the short passage together. I asked them what the girl in that story was making. Okay, I'll be honest... my group of boys started throwing out each answer one by one - basically expecting me to say "yes" to one of them and move on. I took a deep breath, handed each student a highlighter, and responded, "Well, let's look for text clues." I waited as the boys skimmed the story. One boy finally exclaimed, "Hey, I see the word crust! Crust is a part of a pie - not cookies or cupcakes! This girl is making a pie in this one!!" I told them to highlight crust and to keep looking for other clues. We also ended up highlighting peaches and round dish as well.
After highlighting, each student glued the match side-by-side in their own INFERENCES book.
|Two pages from the inferences books we made.|
We continued reading the story cards, highlighting the text clues, and gluing our matches in our books. In my opinion, the activity was a winner - just what my struggling readers needed. This set contains 18 short passages, and by the time they read the fourth passage, they were really doing well! Although we did the entire activity as a group, I truly think they could have been reading, highlighting, and assembling the book independently! They were highly engaged. One student even said "This is FUN!" (Oh, happy day!)