One aspect of inferring is using clues to determine the meaning of new words in the text. This is not a skill which comes naturally to most children. It is important to provide students with many opportunities for practicing so that they learn to do this as they read independently.
When students are attempting to determine the meanings of unkown words they use the following:
- text clues
- picture clues
- rereading of the text
- thinking it through
One book we like for modeling this skill for students is Where Are You Going, Manyoni? by Catherine Stock. (Click on the blue title to find the book on Amazon.) This is one of our favorites because it has many opportunities for the teacher to demonstrate the skill that is being taught. We like to use a chart that has three columns. You will find our chart here: Inferring New Words Organizer. When we work on this skill we spend the first day modeling for students. The second day we ask for student input and then continue to work on the skill during reading mini-lessons until we feel like students are ready to try it out on their own. When we get down to just a few students who are not yet ready, we focus on pulling those students for intervention practice during independent reading.
Other books we like for modeling inferring the meaning of new words are:
A fun book to use to create a game is Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis. You will work backwords when you play this game. Read the definition for each word in the book. Then have students guess the word. Students get practice inferring the big word when they play this game. We have found that this game has become an easy morning center for us. Students take turns reading the clues and have their group members guess the word. It involves reading, vocabulary and reading aloud for fluency practice! Plus, there is no work for us to put it together.
Our complete unit on teaching students how to infer when reading can be found here: http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/2013/01/02/helping-children-learn-to-infer/.