Learning, Leading, and Loving Literacy

Welcome back to the 2018-2019 school year!  One of the best things about our time away from our students is the ability to reflect and make goals for the new year. In the Literacy Department of NSES this year, we are excited to start with plans for more family engagement, coordination with the school librarian, and generally sharing and expanding the joy of reading and writing with our students.

This summer, candidates in the graduate Literacy Program at Providence College offered free teaching in a four week Summer Literacy Camp at NSES. One of the required assignments was to teach a literacy strategy to the entire multi-aged group.  The candidates had to plan a lesson that could apply to all students and differentiate support for three varied grade levels.  One candidate, Lauren Berolini, taught a lesson on inferencing. Although this skill is not expected to be mastered until Grade 4, we still need to find ways to introduce and model the strategy before that grade. Below you will find her guest post about the lesson, the strategy, and ways to support inferencing at home.


Summer Literacy Lessons: Making Inferences

This past week, the students began learning how to make inferences when they read. When readers make inferences, they combine clues from the text with their prior knowledge to uncover insights about the text that are not explicitly stated. To help students develop an understanding of this skill, teachers compared the process of making an inference to the process of completing a puzzle. Like different pieces come together to form a puzzle, readers put different clues together from the text to form an inference.

It is important that students realize that they make inferences all the time. Whether they are inferring that a dog wants to play because he/she has a tennis ball or inferring that a storm is coming because of dark clouds in the sky, students make inferences daily. Therefore, it is vital that they learn to make inferences while they are reading as well. In addition to leading students to be active readers, making inferences while reading helps strengthen students’ understanding texts and makes reading more interesting and fun! However, as inferencing involves abstract thinking, it is still challenging for many primary students, and many students would benefit from practicing this skill at home.

Opportunities for practicing this skill at home:

  • When reading with your child, prompt him/her to look at the clues on the page (pictures, text, etc.) and ask:
    • “What do you think will happen next?”
    • “Is the character really doing what the author says?”
    • “Why might the author have said_______?” “
    • Why might the illustrator have drawn a _________?”
    • Essentially, any open-ended question provides students with an opportunity to practice their inference skills.
  • Share your own inferences about a story with your child as you read.
  • Try to choose books to read with your child that provide many clear opportunities for making inferences. Recommendations include:  
    • The Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer
    • The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel
    • The Gerald and Piggy series by Mo Willems

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