Making inferences is an important reading comprehension skill, but have you ever second-guessed how to teach your students how to make an inference in middle school? It is important to make sure that you have fun activities that focus on making inferences in middle school. It is easy to have students provide you with evidence from the text when something is explicitly stated, but it is harder when they have to infer meaning from a text, and it is even hard to make inferences fun. As a middle school teacher, I’m lucky because my students have been practicing inferencing for years. I’m also unlucky as a middle school teacher because the texts that students are exposed to become progressively harder each year. So while students are usually quite familiar with the concept of making inferences, even strong readers can still struggle with it.
Show students how they are used to making inferences every day
I like to make a production whenever I cover making inferences the first time in class. I’ll usually make the students think I’m very angry about something. I’ll slam the door, stomp my feet and participate in other things that people who are angry stereotypically do. I like to keep it brief because that type of show can get out of control quickly. I will ask students to describe what emotion I was feeling. The hands quickly go up to share that they thought I was angry. We then review the evidence they had to support why they thought I was angry. I then wrap this conversation up by telling students how this translates to the text we’re reading.
POINT OUT HOW YOU MAKE INFERENCES WHILE YOU’RE READING
Good readers make inferences all the time. Actually, all readers make inferences all the time, but they don’t always realize it. When we are reading in class, I make sure to take every opportunity I can to ask students to make inferences as they are reading. I change up the way I ask about inferences based on the class and the text. With easier texts, I can be more vague with my questioning, and with more challenging texts, I usually ask more specific questions. I also require students to provide evidence from the text that supports their inferences. You can see how I incorporate regular inference practice into my daily routine here!
USE FUN INFERENCING ACTIVITIES
The best way to help students who struggle with inferences is to give them plenty of opportunities to make inferences. I have used a variety of resources over the years and I honestly believe that students can’t get enough practice making inferences. I often give students longer texts that allow students to focus on inferencing as well as other skills. I also created a text message inferencing activity for middle school students! They read text message conversations and must make inferences to complete the activities.
Hopefully, I’ve helped you create a plan for how to teach inference in your class. It is not always the most exciting skill to focus on in class, but there are fun inferencing activities that you can use to spice up things in your middle school classroom!