Category Archives: Inferring

A study of character

In English we are looking at analyzing characters.  A reader is required to infer in order to understand the charcters (and people in real life) using evidence from the character’s behaviour and the reader’s own schema (background experience).


Our inquiry has involved looking a photographs of people and making inferences about them.  Since photos are static in time, we can’t use clues such as behavioiur and actions, language (what they say), thoughts (like in a narrative), or how they relate to others.  That leaves very few clues to any inividual characteristics yet we makes inference just the same based on physical characteristics and perhaps some action that we can see.  We decided that we use clues about group traits and individual traits to analyze and evaluate people and characters in texts.


Group Traits might include:

Race, sex, class, stereotypes (jock, goth, etc.), profession, age, etc.

Individual traits include:

Courageous, intelligent, kind, rational, proung, arrogant, loyal, etc.


We talked about how we infer these traits based on clues in the text and our schema.  We make assumptions about people and characters based on these inferences.  We read short passages about a variety of characters and watched some episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (the show has exaggerated characters).  The students recorded their observations and inferences about the characters in their thinking books and then we had a class discussion about each of the characters.  It’s pretty interesting that we all came to very similar conclusions based on the evidence and our background knowledge.  Perhaps culture plays a role here?


Our next step was to look at an open answer / short answer type question about a character and analyze it using the Ontario Achiement Chart.  That will be the topic of a future post.


Tags: , , , ,

Grade 4 are inferring & patterning!

In English Ms. Schinkel is teaching the class about inferring.  Inferring is a very important reading comprehension skill.  When reading we read between the lines, connecting our background knowledge to the information in the text to make inferences.


In this activity there is a mystery with clues that come in Postcards.  Ella has gone missing!  Where could she be?  Read the clues on the cards to solve the mystery using inferring.

inferring inferring2 inferring3 inferring4 inferring5 inferring6

In math we are working on patterning and algebra.  For this activity the students designed a growing pattern with a letter from the alphabet.  Their pattern had to grow (have more squares each term).  They made a table of values for their pattern and wrote the pattern rule.  They also had to predict what the 5th term would be.

Pattering2 patterining patternig7 patterning3 patterning4 patterning5 patterning6 patterning8

Next, they walked around the class looking at their friends patterns.  They had to figure out the pattern rule from the drawing of the growing pattern.

patterning13 patterning12 patterning10 patterning9 patterning 11

If we look at Dusty’s patter here we can see that it starts with 7 squares making his u and he adds 6 more squares each time the pattern grows (each term):


Here is what the table of values looks like:


In grades 4 & 5 the curriculum expectations are to predict a term number that can be easily figured out by extending the pattern in the term value column (adding 6 each time).  By grade 6 the expectation is to use the algebraic equation to find other terms, like the 100th term or even the 1000th term.  In this case I’ve written the algebraic expression at the bottom of the table of values:  6x+1 so the 100th term would be 6 x 100 + 1 = 601 There would be 601 squares in the 1ooth letter u made with tiles.


Tags: , , , ,


Both the grade fours and fives are learning about inferring while reading.  Ms. Schinkel has started to teach them about this critical reading strategy.

She began by having the students read short vignettes that were one side of a telephone conversation.  The class had to infer what the conversation was about using the clues in the text and their background knowledge.  In one conversation they were going to McDonald’s for lunch and a big clue was “Big Mac” so we discussed how that might not be in some people’s background knowledge and if you didn’t know that a Big Mac came from McDonald’s you wouldn’t be able to infer what the they were talking about.

The next day Ms. Schinkel read them the book “Fly Away Home” by Eve Bunting.  It is a story about a boy and his dad who live in an airport.  She stopped to ask the class what they were inferring as she read.  You can see she used pink sticky notes to record her own inferences.  Going forward, the class will be using pink sticky notes to note inferences they make in their own reading.


photo (2)

photo (3)

photo (5)

At the end of the story the students recognized the symbolism of the bird representing freedom and hope for the boy and his dad and use inferring to predict that they would find a home.



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Show – Don’t Tell & Area of Polygons

Today in English we talked more about entertaining the reader.  It’s the author’s job to keep the reader interested.  When we tell it’s kind of boring, if we show, then the reader has to infer a bit and it’s more entertaining.

We started by talking about character’s emotions versus traits.  Emotions change frequently, often many times during one day.  For example, I may wake up late and my little sister is in the bathroom and I really need to have  a shower fast or I’ll miss the bus.  I might feel frustrated and angry at my sister.  Then at school I’m happy to see my friends and play during recess.  I’m even happier during math because it’s so fun….  ;0.  My emotions have changed.  My traits don’t change much, or if they do, it happens over time.  For example, my daughters are both really creative and love to draw.  This is true no matter what they are feeling. 

Here is an example of telling about an emotion:

This sentence is very boring.  It tells me that Bill is boring but it doesn’t show me.  This one is much better:

 After we looked a several examples of an author showing emotions we did a little drama activity.  The students were gieven a scerario and they had to act it out, showing the emotions of the character they were playing.  I tried to post all the videos about 10 times and something wacky was happening with the blog, it posted the same one over and over so I will try again tomorrow. If you want to watch them over on my channel on YouTube here is the link to my channel.

Tomorrow we will write desriptive paragraphs that show, don’t tell a character’s emotions.

And the it was math….

We are still working on Area & Perimeter.  The grade fives solved problems in their text books using the area of a rectangle:

The grade 6s had a problem that required them to figure out how to find the area of a square:

Then they cut the square into two congruent triangles and figured out the area of those (we did not give them the formula as they had to problem solve to get the formula themselves):

Most of the students did figure the area out using l x w / 2 = A

 Mr. B consolidated the learning at the end by showing the 6s the standard notations for the formula:


Tags: , , , , ,

Infer, Infer, Infer……and Measure

We are doing some more inferring this week!  We read a story from the 2011 EQAO test and answered the questions.  Many of the multiple choice questions require inferring.  All of the written questions do.  When we infer we use evidence from the text and our background knowledge.  The story we read and the quesions 1-6 can be found here and a scoring guide can be found here.  If you look at the scoring guide you will notice that the answers include evidence from the text and the student’s own thoughts (background knowledge).


Picture taken from Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis (2007) p. 132


Over the next few weeks, we are going to be looking at inferring theme and the meaning of language – new words, metaphor, figurative language and idioms. 


Mr. B, our student teacher, is back and he wil lbe teaching a unit on measurement, specifically linear measurement, area and perimeter.  Grade 5s will be studying the perimeter and area of triangles and grade 6s will look at quadrilaterals and paralellograms.  Today he read the class a story called Spaghetti and Meatballs for All by Marilyn Burns ( a Math guru!).  In this book Mr. & Mrs. Comfort hold a dinner party for 32 relatives.  Mrs. Comfort has figured out how to arrange their rental tables to seat everyone but Mr. Comfort and other families keep rearranging the tables as they arrive.   Of course, they can’t all fit at the table as they get pushed together as they lose at least two seats every time.  Eventually, they end up with the original configuration that Mrs. Comfort carefully thought out.   The students’ activity was to find as many possible table arangements for 20 people and to compare the area and perimeter.    The students used square colour tiles to model the arrangements.  Alas, I forgot to take photos today 😦

The big idea behind this lesson is that the area can remain the same and the perimeter can change or vice versa, the perimeter can remain the same while the area changes as in the story where they only had 8 square table to use so the area was alway 8 tables squared. 



Tags: , , , , , ,

More Inferring

Today we worked with a famous poem by Robert Frost :

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

We used a graphic organizer to judge whether a series of statements were supported by the text, inferences based on evidence from the text, or totally unsupported by the text.  Here is the sheet we used Frosts poetry inferring chart
Following this activity which was done as a class, the students read Hercules and the Wagoner which is an Aesops Fable and completed a sililar chart with statements about the story.
In math we continued to work on our multiplication books.  Students can be researching new ways to multiply at home in order to be ready to finish their books tomorrow. 

Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Comprehension Strategies, Inferring, Math


Tags: , , ,

Inferring & Multiplication

Today in English our focus was on inferring.  Using information in the text and our background knowledge (schema) to “read between the lines”.  We were making inferences based on observing a photograph.  This is the photograph that we looked at:












This was our thinking organizer:
























And finally, our summary:  

This is a picture of four children who are child labourers. The children are working in a city, but we are not sure which one. It could be India, but this is based on the title of the picture and not the picture itself. The children are probably working during the day because the sun is out. They might be working because the family needs money.

Inferring is a very important part of reading (and daily life – just watch CSI!).  We are working on being aware of our thinking while we read (meta-cognition – thinking about our thinking).  We will do a few more photo activities and then move on to inferring from written text. 

In math we learned how to use the area model to multiply.  It’s a bit like breaking numbers apart because we break the numbers down into smaller ones to multiply.  But it also shows the relationship between multiplicaiton and area.  Tomorrow we will video tape ourselves using various and algorithms in mulitplication as Mr. T asked us which ones we use and like. 


Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Comprehension Strategies, Inferring, Math


Tags: , , ,