Developing ELA Inference Reading Skills Through Technology: Inference Reading

BoyChildYouthKid

These suggestions for improving students inference reading skills are based on students having practiced with question words and having practiced with literal level questions.

– Have the students look at a question on the Smartboard, underline a critical word in the question and have them write at least three other words for that critical word. If the students read “Where did the boy buy the book?”, they underline the word “boy”, they write “child, youth, or kid”. They look for the critical word of “boy” in the passage. If they do not find that exact word, then they look for the synonyms. They may find “The child purchased the book at the corner store.” Students can underline all the critical words in a question and then list the synonyms under each critical word. Then they can be given a file so they can do the same activity on their own laptop for individual practice.

-Provide students with one sentence and ask many inference questions about the sentence. “In the northeastern part of the city at noon the tall man crashed his new truck into the tree because the sun was so bright.” This time each question will contain at least one inference (other than the question word inference). Who was driving the truck? When did the accident happen? Where was the collision? What happened to the tree? When did this unfortunate thing take place? Why was the tree hit? Help them so that they can answer the Ws for each of these inference question. The students have to be to comprehend the question well enough and to read the passage well enough to understand that the same idea can be presented with different words such “crashed into the tree” = “collision”. You might want to model this for the whole class several times using a word processor or a Smartboard. Then students can answer several inference questions on their own computers. As they answer you can see if any misunderstandings occur.

-You can increase the inference difficulty by using several inference words in the question. (Just like the NYS ELA does!) Instead of “Who was driving the truck?” the question could be “Which adult was driving the vehicle?” In the first question, “truck” is in the passage but “driving” is not and neither is “Who?” In the second questions students have to translate “Which adult”, “was driving” and “the vehicle” in order to be able to answer the question; yes, that is three  inferences  in the same question.

-After students can answer inference questions based on one sentence, then give them a paragraph with inference questions. One teacher delivers his reading inference homework via his blog. The students download the reading passages from the blog, work on them, and bring them to class the next day. Another teacher uses personal response devices to “see” the students’ answers during class and figure out if any inference problems emerge.

How else do you improve your students’ inference reading ability through technology?

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