Lesson: Connecting Inferences with Characters Actions

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to understand characters’ actions by asking, “Why did he or she do that?” and coming up with reasonable explanations and inferences.

Lesson Plan


State Standard:  . 3.LT-U.2.

Standard Name: Identify the main ideas in a story and use story details and prior knowledge to understand ideas that are not directly stated in the text.

Objective:Students will be able to understand characters’ actions by asking, “Why did he or she do that?” and coming up with reasonable explanations and inferences.

Do-Now:  Act out:  have students complete an action in the class randomly have students observe, then ask students to explain or inference why they thought they were acting a certain way.  On the board or on chart paper write down what the students action is and list the reasoning the students come up with. 


Opening: Linking back to the do now have the student who was completing the action state the reason the way they acted the way that they did.  Explain to students that sometimes we are not sure about a persons actions just like we can’t be sure of a characters actions.  In fact with a character it might even be a little more difficult because we can’t really ask a character why they are doing what they are doing or acting the way that they are acting the way that we can ask a person right?  So we have to do something called inference.

Directed Instruction:  When we make an inference we “read between the lines”. Give me a thumbs up or thumbs down if you have ever heard of that phrase?  Today when you were making an inference about how your classmate was acting you were reading between the lines. 

Author’s often tell you more than they say directly.  When they say it directly they are talking about the words they have explicitly written in the text.   They give you hints or clues that help you "read between the lines." Using these clues to give you a deeper understanding of your reading is called inferring. When you infer, you go beyond the surface details to see other meanings that the details suggest or imply (not stated). When the meanings of words are not stated clearly in the context of the text, they may be implied - that is, suggested or hinted at. When meanings are implied, you may infer them.

Inference is just a big word that means a conclusion or judgement. If you infer that something has happened, you do not see, hear, feel, smell, or taste the actual event. But from what you know, it makes sense to think that it has happened. You make inferences everyday and you just made inferences about the way one of your classmates was acting. Most of the time we do this or inference without thinking about it.

Share example:  Suppose you are sitting in your car stopped at a red signal light. You hear screeching tires, then a loud crash and breaking glass. You see nothing, but you infer that there has been a car accident. We all know the sounds of screeching tires and a crash. We know that these sounds almost always mean a car accident. But there could be some other reason, and therefore another explanation, for the sounds. Perhaps it was not an accident involving two moving vehicles. Maybe an angry driver rammed a parked car. Or maybe someone played the sound of a car crash from a recording. Making inferences means choosing the most likely explanation from the facts at hand.


Guided Practice:  Today we are going to do just what we did on our do now but we are going to make some inference about what a character is doing in a story.  Watch me as I read aloud a story to you and be ready to make some inferences about the story.

Choose an event driven story with action that is happening with characters.   Create a t-chart that has action no one side and inference on the other side.  List the action as you approach it in the book, have students give you inferences.  Do this a couple times.  Encourage students to turn and talk and state an inference.  Make sure you are taking time out to go over outrageous answers with students and make sure they are staying clear of giving inferences that are the most like explanation from the facts that are given at hand. 


Independent Practice: Students create their own t-chart of possible inferences that are coming up with based on actions in a story.  Students can do this based on a read aloud, an independent book, a just right book, or in guided reading groups.  This would also be a great center to have students do once you have practiced it using whole class instruction. 


Closing:  Now that you can make inferences you can really understand what is going on in the story and use your brain to think about the things that are happening and how when you inference you really connect with actions a character may be facing that aren’t directly implied. 

Quiz: What is one inference you can make about the class?  What is one inference you can make about our school?  What is one inference you can make about a character in your book and why? 

Lesson Resources

Birth of a Mighty River Passage Inferncing  
Bringing Books to Life Passage  


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