Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inferring... A Synthesis

We just finished a strategy study of how wise readers (and mathematicians and writers) Draw Inferences.  As part of the culmination of our study, my third graders brainstormed the following list of "What We Know About Inferring."
     Each statement on their list is followed by clarifying statements other students made in response.  I love these discussions and hearing student's thinking about this strategy after several weeks of study and how it applies to their own learning.  If our goal is to get students to use thinking strategies independently, talk lays such an important foundation at the beginning of a study and at the end.  It's so important to compare their initial definitions to their thinking after intense study.  It's about being metacognitive.  Enjoy...

What We Know About Inferring 
If a book leaves you hanging, you can infer what is going to happen next. (J.)  “You come to a part you don’t understand and you can’t figure it out, you don’t know what’s going to happen next, you infer because you’re not sure.” (L./J.) 

I know that you need schema, text clues, and predictions to equal an inference. (B.) “If you didn’t it wouldn’t make any sense, you’d just be guessing because you don’t have enough information to go on in order to infer.” (P.)

If you don’t understand a sentence in a book, you can infer to find out what you don’t understand. (L.)  “If you go past it without knowing what a word is or something you ask yourself ‘What did I just read?’” (B.) 

I know that your head and heart are in inferring for feeling, for getting a sense of the text. (J.)  “The text doesn’t know what you’re feeling. (J.)  You have to catch yourself inferring… so that those feelings will emerge.  You just can’t hold it in!” (B./L./Mr. A.) 

There are three puzzle pieces to inferring:  background knowledge/background experience, text clues, and predictions. (R.) “These three parts have to happen – they are tools to help you understand, remember, make it memorable, and extend meaning.  Emotions, thoughts, and ideas are three more parts that you have to have to infer.” (P./I.) 

I know that inferring is important: you use background knowledge, text clues, and predictions to infer what is going to happen. (I.)  “You need to have all these things happening to infer.  You have these things happening and you have to lead yourself through them to lead yourself ‘up to inferring.’” (K./T.) 

You can’t leave one step out, you have to use them all because otherwise it’s not inferring. (L.)  “The secret to inferring is: not all writers tell you everything, not because they ran out of paper, but because they want you, the reader, to figure it out for yourself.” (Unknown) 

You don’t use inferring just in reading, you use it in math and writing too. (P.)  “It’s a strategy you use everywhere, anytime.” (I.) 

If you have a question, it can be confirmed or disconfirmed. (R.)  “If it’s confirmed it means that you inferred well… if it’s disconfirmed, you may have to go back and try it again and look for other clues.” (P.) 

Inferring means to understand.  If you don’t understand a word, you infer what it might mean. (P.)   “Inferring is about personal meaning.  To understand the meaning you have to infer so that you can read on otherwise you won’t be able to understand the rest of the story.” (Mr. A./R.) 

You need to know what inferring is to be a better reader, writer, and mathematician. (K.)  “If you just use one strategy all the time you won’t get better at the other strategies that you know.  Inferring helps you understand meaning and to get better as a reader; it adds another strategy to your brain.” (P.) 

I know that confirmed means that “I got it” and disconfirmed means “Try it again because I didn’t really get it.” (T.)  “If you don’t you wouldn’t know if your inference is in the ballpark.  If you don’t notice you won’t go back to see what you missed.” (R./I.). 

I know that with picture clues you can figure out what a picture is trying to tell you. (M.) “Sometimes the text doesn’t give you enough.  Sometimes the pictures give you what you need.” (L.) 

Inferring helps you understand the meaning. (E.)  “I know that when a book doesn’t give you enough information, you have to give yourself information, you have to be metacognitive about your inferring about what you’re doing.  It’s just going through you if you don’t pay attention.” (P.)  

You have to ponder when you’re inferring. (J.) “If you didn’t ponder, you’d have too much in your head and wouldn’t be paying attention.  When they slow down, it helps wise readers to make decisions.” (P./L.) 

You have to have a book that you understand or it will be really challenging. (T.)  “If you have a book that is too hard, you can’t infer because you’re not picking up text clues.” (I.)

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