Copyright 2001 © Laraine Flemming.
1. Introduce the chapter by getting students to see that they make inferences all of the time without realizing it. Give them examples from everyday life in which they draw inferences. Say they run into a good friend who has just taken a final exam and who looks utterly miserable. What would they infer? Or imagine a friend or family member who has just come in from a blind date and is smiling from ear to ear. What inference would they be likely to draw? Once students realize they draw inferences on a regular basis, they are much less likely to be intimidated by the thought of drawing inferences from paragraphs.
2. If making students comfortable with inferences is the first step in teaching this chapter, getting them to realize that not all inferences are appropriate or logical is definitely the next step. Students are inclined to think that any inference will do if a paragraph lacks a topic sentence. They need to realize that the inferences they draw from paragraphs have to be firmly grounded in the text. Inferences that arenít only create confusion for the reader.
3. To make students think about how they go about drawing inferences, have them complete the exercise on selecting the better inference. Then have them discuss their answers as a group, asking individual students to explain what specific statements in the paragraph led them to choose one inference over another.
4. Although I like group work in general, I think it is particularly effective for drawing inferences. Students can compare the trains of thought that led them to a particular conclusion.
Last change made to this page: August 13, 2001