By Dr. Geraldine Haggard, Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, Guest Blogger
This is the third part of a blog post series that will help your students make inferences while reading. In today's post, I'll explain how to give your students tools to make meaning by inferring with an informational text. If you missed the first part on how to build inferences skills with a wordless book, you should read Steps to Help Students Make Inferences, Part 1. If you missed the second part on helping students make inferences with a narrative text, you should read Steps to Help Students Make Inferences, Part 2.
Helping Students Make Inferences with an Informational Text
Fantastic Frogs is a great resource for kids to learn about the life cycle and characteristics of frogs. It is part of the Story World Real World collection. The table of contents is one of several nonfiction text features in this leveled reader that you can help students use to make predictions of content within the book. Photographs, a glossary, and an index in this level L book are also vibrant resources to help students make inferences.
Introduction: Tell students that they will be drawing conclusions and explain that conclusions are made after reading and thinking. Ask students about conclusions they've made in the day: Do you feel rested? Did you decide to do anything after waking up this morning?
After showing students the cover and title page of Fantastic Frogs, ask students about their background knowledge of frogs. Then turn to the table of contents and have them make predictions about the sections in the book.
Pages 4–7: Ask the students to read with you, then focus attention on the bolded word on page 4. Explain that the meaning of adapting will help them draw conclusions about why frogs are found in many countries. Encourage students to turn to the glossary to find the meaning of the word. Ask students to think about ways frogs have to survive in different places.
Pages 8–9: After reading pages 8 and 9, ask students the following questions about the life-cycle diagram:
- How did the author name each stage of a frog's life? Where did you find this information?
- Why are there different pictures for each stage of the life cycle?
- What does the suffix -let mean?
- How are the illustrations in the last two stages alike?
- How are the tadpole and froglet stages different?
Pages 10–11: These pages encourage students to make inferences about frogs' eyes. You can support their inferring with the following questions:
- Why is it important for a frog to see what is around it?
- How do you swallow food? How is this different from the way a frog swallows food?
- Why don't you stick your eyes out as you swallow?
Pages 12–13: Pages 12 and 13 provide details about the purpose of frogs' colors. You can use the following questions to help students compare and contrast:
- How the frogs on each page different?
- What is the same about each frog?
Page 14: After you read page 14, ask children questions to help them make connections to the topic of the text:
- Did you know how far frogs can jump?
- How are your legs different from frogs' legs?
Remind students that being a good reader means using prior knowledge to draw conclusions about the ideas being presented through the text.
Conclusions About Making Inferences
As students advance in guided reading levels, the text may not directly present information to students, which can affect comprehension for struggling readers. Common Core State Standards refer to instructional strategies that draw upon vocabulary and story structure to help students make meaning. However, your role is crucial for modeling reading skills and comprehension strategies that help students infer.
You can share the responsibility of teaching guided reading strategies with other content-area teachers to help students make inferences. As you've seen over the parts of this blog series, this skill can be easily developed with wordless, fiction, and nonfiction books for kids. As you select a book while planning your next lesson, be sure to check for reading standards that could be modeled as you use the book.
Remember that your ultimate goal is to help students become excellent readers, not just to teach skills to help students receive good test scores. You are the key to your students’ success and love of reading! Be sure to come back soon for more ways to help your students.
Dr. Geraldine Haggard is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent thirty-seven years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children. If you like what you read here, you can enjoy more from Dr. Haggard elsewhere on our blog.