Thursday, 11 December 2014

Teaching inferential reading



Simple comprehension of a text isn’t enough. To be high-level readers, children need to be able to infer meaning that goes beyond what the text explicitly tells them. But how can we teach them to do this?


In this blog post, you'll find an outline for a session on inferential reading for use with Key Stages 2 and 3. There's also a free worksheet for you to download from our website and a number of suggested starter activities. 

But first, what is inferential reading, and why is it so important?



An essential reading skill
Inferences are the conclusions we draw based on what we already know and judgements we make based on given information. When reading inferentially, students use the information the text provides, combined with prior knowledge, to make assumptions about meanings which are not directly stated.

In a blog post on inferential reading for P@WSLeanne Hegarty says: 'Inference can be as simple as associating the pronoun "he" with a previously mentioned male person. Or, it can be as complex as understanding a subtle implicit message, conveyed through the choice of particular vocabulary by the writer and drawing on the reader’s own background knowledge.'

The ability to make inferences is important for reading comprehension, but also more widely when analysing and critiquing texts. Inferential reading is vital to understanding the aims of a writer and the impact of their work on its audience, which, in turn, are crucial to the study of literature  at GSCE and beyond.

How to teach inferential reading
So we've established the importance of inferential reading  but how do we teach it?

It's best to start early, in Key Stages 2 and 3. A session on inferential reading with pupils of that age group might progress as follows:

1. Introduce the notion of making inferences from text. You can do this through an example text or poem (such this one here); a brief, sentence level activity (such as ‘Cucumber Cues’ or ‘Simple Sentences’ – see 'Activities to introduce inferential reading' below); or a discussion on the inferences students make in everyday life.

2. Hand out the text or section of the text you will be working on. Give each student the activity sheet ‘Reading and discussing texts together’ - download this for free here (download begins straight away).

Before reading the text:
3. Encourage students to discuss their prior knowledge about the topic. They will need to think about their experiences, background knowledge, what they have heard and seen, and other books they have read, then record their ideas in box 1 on the worksheet.

4. Students make predictions about what they might learn from the text or what might happen in the text, filling these in box 2.

5. Students record any questions they have about the text in box 3.

Reading the text:
6. Ask students to read the passage as a whole without interruption.

After reading the text:
7. Have students review their written predictions about the text.

8. Ask students whether they needed to modify their ideas in light of the text, and how the new information changed or reshaped their prior knowledge. They write this down in box 4.

9. Students complete the activity with a summary of the text in box 5, filling in the most important facts from the text in chronological order.



Activities to introduce inferential reading

There are many fun and simple games and activities to introduce the concept of inferential reading. You can find a whole list of them in this article by Dale Pennell. One example of his is the game ‘Cucumber cues’. This is how you play it:

1. Write a list of sentences on the board. Replace one word in every sentence with the word ‘cucumber’. Examples include:

  • I like to eat peanut cucumber.
  • A dog has four cucumbers.
  • I clean my cucumber with a toothbrush.

2. Students work individually or in pairs to write out the sentences, changing cucumber to a word that makes better sense.

3. Students share their responses with the class and identify words that gave them clues to the word they substituted. Ask students to relate the clue word to their background experiences and explain how this background information helped them find an appropriate substitute word.

An alternative to this activity is ‘Simple sentences’. Give students a list of sentences to practise making inferences. Each sentence should contain two facts, which, when combined with prior knowledge and context, can give the students further information about the characters or situation in the sentence. Examples include:

  • Sue blew out the candles and opened her presents.
  • John went running out into the street without looking.
  • We bought tickets and some popcorn.

Roy van den Brink-Budgen explores ways teachers can develop the critical skill of inferential reading and the research behind it in our upcoming issue of Creative Teaching and Learning. Watch this space for more information!

2 comments:

  1. I was in quest of various topics that are enough well-liked and lastly got your blog, it has outstanding topics with immense popularity. http://www.infinitytutors.com/

    ReplyDelete

  2. Discover a Surefire Method to Teach Your Child to Read

    There are many different methods and opinions on how to teach a child to read - while all are well-intentioned, some methods could actually lead to reading difficulties in children. Learning to read is a critical step towards future academic success and later on success in life. If you cannot read, you cannot succeed. There is an amazingly simple method - actually, a combination of two methods - that can teach anyone to read, even children as young as 2 and 3 years old.

    The combination of these two methods has been used in the Children Learning Reading program to successfully teach thousands of young children to read. So what are these methods?

    It is the combination of synthetic phonics and phonemic awareness. Most have probably heard of phonics, but phonemic awareness is a concept less well known and ?it's not something you hear about often. Certainly, phonics is absolutely necessary to develop fluent reading skills; however, there are different types of phonics including embedded, analogy, analytical, and synthetic phonics. While using some type of phonics is better than not including any phonics instructions at all, you will achieve FAR BETTER results by employing synthetic phonics, which is by far the most easy and effective method for teaching reading. Multiple studies support this.

    In a 7 year study conducted by the Scottish Education Department, 300 students were taught using either analytic phonics or synthetic phonics. The results found that the synthetic phonics group were reading 7 months ahead and spelling 8 to 9 months ahead of the other phonics groups. At the end of the 7 year study, the children were reading 3.5 years ahead of their chronological age.

    Very impressive!

    Through their amazing reading program, the creators (Jim & Elena - parents of 4 children and reading teachers) have taught all of their children to read phonetically by 3 years old and have helped thousands of parents to successfully teach their children to read as well! Some are small 2 or 3 year old toddlers, others are young 4 or 5 year old preschoolers, and still others at ages 6, 7, 8 or even older.

    >> Click here to watch amazing videos of young children reading, and see the amazing results so many parents are achieving with their children.

    The Children Learning Reading program works so well that many children will achieve reading ages far ahead of their chronological age.

    Take Jim & Elena's children as an example: their oldest child, Raine, was reading phonetically at 2 years 11 months old, and by the time she entered kindergarten at 5 years old, she was reading at a grade 5 level with a reading age of 11.9 years - almost 7 years ahead of her chronological age. Their second child, Ethan, learned to read phonetically by 2 years 9 months, and at age 3, he was reading at a grade 2 level with a reading age of 7.2 years - progressing at a similarly quick pace as his older sister. Find that hard to believe? You can watch the videos posted here.

    There are many different phonics programs out there, but rarely do you ever hear a mention of phonemic awareness (PA), and PA is absolutely an equally critical component to developing reading skills in children. What makes the Children Learning Reading program so unique and amazingly effective at teaching young children is that it seamlessly combines the teaching of synthetic phonics along with phonemic awareness to enable children to develop superb reading skills.

    >>> Click here to learn more about the Children Learning Reading program and teach your child to read today

    ReplyDelete