Welcome to post #2 in the mini series Comprehension: How to Support Readers.
Comprehension can be a tricky topic to support young readers with. Especially if they are reluctant to read. For this reason, Bettering Youth uses the following 7 techniques to ensure our students are confident with comprehension tasks.
The 7 strategies of comprehension:
- Making connections
- Making inferences
- Generating and asking questions
- Comprehension monitoring
Does your child struggle with how to make inferences? Learn more about the SATs Success Group course February 19th at 6pm for 10 weeks!
Last week we explored how to support readers in making connections. If you missed that technique to boost comprehension, click here.
Today we will explore the second comprehension technique: how to make inferences while reading.
2. Making Inferences while Reading
The second comprehension technique to boost understanding is to make inferences.
Inferencing is defined as drawing a conclusion based on a combination of evidence within the text and previous experience.
This is the next natural technique to teach to readers and often the more difficult technique to grasp. “Reading between the lines” is a challenging concept for most as it requires higher order thinking. This skill, however, is closely linked to all core subjects including Science, Maths and the Arts. It is therefore a skill to invest time and effort in teaching and modelling.
As ever, knowing the structure required to make inferences can help immensely. Bettering Youth tutors use the following writing stems to help students relate their inferences. These are especially useful in exams.
Inference writing stems:
- I think… because….
- Maybe this means…
- I’m guessing… because….
- This allows me to assume…
How to teach the comprehension technique of making inferences
One of the best methods to teach inference making is through structured practise. Bettering Youth English tutors use the W-H-C method. Our very own process of structuring student thinking in making inferences. We begin with the question “What”, follow it up with “How” and of course ask the child to “Connect” it to their previous knowledge.
- What do you believe is happening?
- Which element helps you to make this inference?
- What prior knowledge helps to support this inference?
Looking at the above questions helps readers to systematically create inferences. It also provides an outline of how to model inferencing.
Teaching Readers to Make Inferences While Reading
One of my favourite activities to practise inferencing is by looking at music. Lyrics are often overflowing with hidden meaning and double entendres that require inferencing to fully grasp the meaning of the song.
- Start by encouraging the reader to list their all time 5 favourite songs.
- Ask them why they like each of these songs. Notice that oftentimes it is because the lyrics connect to a previous experience. Therefore they have already made connections with the lyrics.
- Play one of the favourite songs.
- Model making inferences by first commenting on the mood of the song based on the tempo and instruments.
- Then look at the lyrics, a stanza at a time and model the above inference structure.
Click here for my original lesson plan of teaching inferencing. It includes 6 pages and a student worksheet.
Have fun supporting readers in making inferences while reading
With a structured approach, teaching inference making can be as they say; “easy peasy, lemon squeezy”.
But like all great things, this technique will require dedication and consistent practise.
Patience is key when developing confidence in any area so be sure to reflect on this throughout the week and be sure to let me know what strategy you have chosen to employ in the comments below.
Cheers and all the best to all the readers!
Have you explored Week 1 of Comprehension: How to Support Readers? Be sure to check it out. We delved into technique number 1: making connections while reading.