Yesterday after we had completed administering benchmark assessments I had the opportunity to teach language arts to my 4th grade students. The reading passage that the students were required to read was a story about 3 boys scouts going on a hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. While reading the passage with the students I quickly noticed that when they answered the comprehension questions the students always added extra details to the story. For example, the text stated that one of the scouts in the story fell into a ditch and hurt is ankle. When I asked the students what happened to the scout each student replied, ” He fell and broke his ankle.” I asked the students if that’s what the text said and many of the students were sure that the scout had broken his leg even though that detail was not stated in the text.
After reading the passage the students began to answer questions that required them to make an inference. The students were unable to make an inference because they continued to rely solely on their background knowledge instead of using text evidence and their background knowledge to form a logical inference.
So, after a few failed attempts I wrote the inference formula on the board text + background knowledge = inference. This formula gave the students a guide to help them used what they knew and text evidence to make a inference. The template above it requires the students to incorporate accountable talks as well as use their background knowledge and text evidence to make a “logical” inference. While going through the lesson I realized that if a student is missing the background knowledge he/she will not be able to make an inference even with the inference formula. I then had to front load information about the Grand Canyon to give those students the missing piece to the inference formula.