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We make inferences all of the time when we analyse a text and use our knowledge and experiences coupled with evidence from the text to think deeply about what is happening or what is being said. Inferring is not a specific comprehension strategy as it is embedded within all of the metacognitive strategies we use as proficient readers. The process of making inferences does not come naturally to many students and requires explict teaching and opportunities to practice.

There is a subtle difference between inferring and predicting and that is that predicting is a kind of forward inferring which we can confirm or reject later. Making inferences (versus predicting) is slightly more complex as our justification needs to be stronger and the ability to gather feedback is more challenging as we cannot simply confirm or reject our inferences by reading on.

Teaching ideas:

Inference bag

Inference about music

Inferring from an image

Rania Telemeir for Scholastic: Read Every Day, Lead a Better Life! Project

Questions to ponder:

  • What is this text about? Why do you think that?
  • Who was this text created for? Why do you think that?
  • What is the author/creator trying to tell us? Why do you think that? Why do you think the author/creator thinks that message is important enough for him/her/them to want to tell us about it?


Other resources: