Teaching inference skills for third grade students requires many educational approaches and learning activities. Students at this grade level can typically read and complete worksheets independently; however, students with learning disabilities may require more one-on-one attention. Comprehension and inference skills involve understanding information, properly sequencing a series of events, organising graphs, story mapping and utilising prior knowledge. Developing inference skills should not just be an English class activity but rather a standard part of lessons in all subjects. Students who cannot comprehend presented information will fall behind in math, science and history class as well.
1 Develop a lesson plan that includes activities relating to the five elements of a story as well as sequencing, summarising, story setting and discovery of the main idea and supporting details. Simply reading words correctly on a page does not mean a student understands or can use the information. Facilitate a question-and-answer section after reading passages that include cause-and-effect elements pulled from the storyline. Graph organiser worksheets should accompany a reading lesson so students can use such worksheets as a reference for unit tests and writing assignments.
2 Discuss the five elements of a story: the introduction, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. Assign worksheets and extension art projects related to the reading material. Not only will the students enjoy hands-on activities, they will get excited about the story they read and recall and retain details while creating an art project.
3 Reinforce the main ideas and supporting details of reading material with a "Web" worksheet. The four-section organizational chart simplifies the main focus of the reading material and portions of information that support the main idea. The chart will jog the memory of students when they study for a test, complete worksheets or work on related writing assignments.
4 Introduce or reinforce the concepts of sequencing. Understanding a series of events is an integral aspect for reading comprehension or inference. Sequencing worksheets and instruction should focus on the major components of the story at the beginning, middle and end. Understanding a sequence aids in detail recall and enables the student to retell the story in oral and written reports. By understanding the key elements of text, students typically find comprehension of the material less frustrating. Breaking the story down into smaller portions prompts increased focus on the details of both character and events.
Tips and warnings
Making a story quilt with construction paper, crayons and yarn is a fun extension project. Have the students write a sentence on the back of the paper and draw an image reflecting the information on the front. Hole punch each student's work and tie together with yarn to form a hanging story quilt.
Students will not grasp the meaning of written text if they do not understand the words. Make sure to go over all new vocabulary words and terms before the reading assignment.