Specific Strategy for Teaching Reading Vital
Teaching reading is at times difficult even when everything seems
to make sense. For children, especially learning to read, at first
is a big challenge. Much of the problem seems to be in helping
children understand what they have read. Learning Comprehension
about what is being read by the student is an important step.
One of the first steps to that end is learning to draw an inference.
Author Kylene Beers talks about this situation in her book "When Kids Can't
Read". She believed at first that if a child could make an inference,
if they were able to make an inference of any kind, then much
of her problems teaching would be gone.
Much of the problem with achieving comprehension and understanding
seems to be that children could not seem to form a basic inference.
"It took many years for me to figure out how get around that concept"
said Author Beers.
We have to keep in mind that students need to be able to answer
What is it that we are talking about?
Much of the solution seems to be that while some children seem
can't make inferences, we make inferences each and every day,
and we draw conclusions and infer information based on a lot of
different factors. What people appear like, the expression on
someone's face, how articles are set up in a room, there are a
lot of different things that we can comment on that we infer every
So how do we set out to transfer that skill to interacting with
written words on a page? Ahh.. There is the challenge that confronts
What does it appear like or look like?
Ms. Beers talks about how to use resources to help both teachers
and students. She speaks about resources that will assist in teaching
these vital skills.
Some of the Inference types that skillful readers utilize:
-Use clues from context to figure out meanings of words unknown
-Be able to identify and recognize pronouns, and their antecedents.
-Use clues to identify personalities, beliefs, motivations and
beliefs of characters.
-Use the reading to provide clues and information about the
setting or venue.
-Work to try to understand the relationships about one character
-Work to try to understand how the author views the word
-Figure out the bias if any that the author has.
-Offer alternate conclusions, and explore the conclusions made
in the text.
How Can I adapt, Use, or set this fact apart?
As you demonstrate and model "inferential reading" to your students,
try and illustrate things that they see each day. Use events and
common things to help explain and achieve comprehension for your
student. Try to show similarities to the inferences that students
draw each day in their daily activity.
Find an event that happens in your student's lives, and help
them to draw conclusions and inferences from it. Then try to help
them see how they can do the same to an event or item that they
Perhaps the first time you can do this as a whole class activity,
using the computer or a classroom chart. Work through the steps
for drawing an inference one by one, as a class as a group. Then,
assign some sample events and ask the students to draw inferences
As students accomplish this, then help them transfer this to
their reading. Yes, this can be a challenge, but when modeled
in a clear concise way it does not need to be necessarily mind-bending.
As you work the process with your students, make each step clear
and as real to them, using examples as you go.
Make a chart and list the steps as you go, with lots of class
participation. Post the Chart when you are done in the classroom
as a ready reference.
-Read Aloud Short Passage as a class
Have your students read, and read out loud yourself often. Separate
students into small groups, or partners. Encourage students to
"Think out loud" and to share what they see in the text as they
As you do this, try to zero in on what inferences are present
in the text. Ask students to identify the inferences, using their
reference list. -
What is the meaning of what the author wrote?
Show and model for students that making inferences is a step-by-step
process. Authors do not think their readers will create inferences
or have understanding out of the blue.
Demonstrate and model that authors use both implied information,
and literal information. Show students that as a reader we will
be the ones inferring. And that as authors, either information
is actual and literal, or it is implied by what they write.
-Comments and Encouragement For students
As you move forward you can help students by helping encourage
and comment on your student's progress. Some of the things that
you can share with students to help them are:
"After reading what can you tell me about the character and how
"What are the pronouns in what you are reading, and what to they
"When your done reading, tell me why the character acted the
way they did?"
"What is the setting, and how would you change it?"
"Why did the series of events happen the way that it did?"
"How did the characters act when (reference a specific area in
the reading) and why did they act that way?"
"Write down words you don't know and see if you want figure out
the meaning by the words around them?"
"What do you think the Author thought or felt about (Insert the
name of a character or a topic in the reading"?
Have students sit and write down answers to specific questions
after they read. Use the following as a guide: When? Where? How?
Who? What? And perhaps the hardest for some students. Why?
As students progress, gradually make the questions harder.
Using these types of questions will assist your students to THINKING
about their reading, and hopefully they will be able to grow to
identify and come to their own conclusions, including drawing
direct and implied inferences from the reading.