Making Inferences

A Spotlight on Strategies by Ashley Gregory

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Why Inferencing?

Inferring can be defined as merging background knowledge with clues in the text to come up with an idea that is not explicitly stated by the author. Reasonable inferences need to be tied to the text (Harvey & Goudvis, 132). Students can infer the following: the meaning of unfamiliar words, feelings, cover/illustrations, text clues, plot, and/or theme. Readers who make inferences use the clues in the text along with their own experiences to help them figure out what is not directly said, making the text more personal and far more memorable. According to Teacher Vision, helping students make texts memorable will help them gain more personal plesaure from reading, read the text more critically, and remember and apply what they have read.
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Good readers make inferences- they "read betwen the lines" to draw conclusions.

Third Grade Inferencing Standards:

CC.1.2.3.B: Ask and answer questions about the text and make inferences from text; refer to the text to support responses

CC.1.3.3.G: Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).

CC.1.4.3.S Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research, applying grade-level reading standards for literature and informational texts.

Example: Inferencing with Context Clues

Students can start off by watching this YouTube introduction on Inferencing. This short clip serves as a great anticipatory activity to gets students thinking about inferencing.

Students will then be using the Inferencing with Context Clues graphic organizer (pictured below) to identify the meaning of unknown vocabulary words in the picture book The Fantastc Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. This activity will be a teacher-guided whole-group lesson designed to be finished in small-group centers following the whole-group instruction portion.

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Have students partner-read the wordless picture book Tuesday or Free fall (both by David Wiesner).

Students will take turns making an infernces on each page using a post-it sticky. The pair must agree with the inference chosen. The pair will discuss how the context clues led them to come up with this inference and verbally discuss as they work through the book.

Each pair will share one page of the story and their inference in whole-group to tie the activity together.

Teacher will assess through post-it stickys, anecdotal records, and/or teacher observation.

*Optional digital media extension: Have students track ONE inference from each book on their student blog under the tab "Making Inferences". At the closing of the unit, students can look back and see just how often they made inferences and how important the strategy of making inferences is!


TheSpedster. (Photographer). (2016, March 7). Child reading [digital image]. Retrieved from

Libraries ACT. (Photographer). (2009, Oct 1). Reading together [digital image]. Retrieved from

Harvey, S., & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work: Teaching comprehension to enhance understanding. York, Me.: Stenhouse.

Websites/ Technology Integration:

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2012). Retrieved from

Inferences. (2015, February). Retrieved April 4, 2016, from

[Grubb, Michael]. (2013, Dec 18). Tuesday. [Video file]. Retrieved from

[ChrisH22]. (2007, Nov 8). Free fall by David Wiesner. [Video file]. Retrieved from

[Ginder, Amy]. (20015, Jan 12). Making inferences- partly cloudy. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Findley, Jennifer. (2013, Nov 29). Collaboration cuties: how to use mentor text. [blog post]. Retrieved from