Introducing Making Inferences

Using a "Me Box" the students create to infer character traits, likes, and dislikes about their classmates.

The beginning of the year is filled with lots of get to know you activities.  But this year I wanted to make it a bit more academic, getting right into the nitty gritty of academic language from the get go.  So I turned one of those traditional "get to know you" activities into a lesson in Inferring!

First, I had the students create a "Me Box" in class.  I used these instructions here, but the basic gist is that they filled the box with items that were special to the individual student.  The student chose what items to include, all with the idea that these items told the story of who they were.   While we made the box together in class, the students brought the items from home.

A "Me Box" filled with items the student felt represented him.  These boxes were put on display for the classmates to get to know them.

Once all of the boxes were complete, the other students in the class walked around the room looking at the items contained within each box.  Using a sticky note, the kids tried to make an inference about the personality or likes of the classmates.  They had to think about what was actually in the box and how those items connected together.  For example, if there was a basketball trophy, some baseball cards, and a ticket stub from a local football game, the kids could reasonably infer that the student like sports or was athletic himself.   If there was a bunch of art supplies, drawings, and things of that nature, the students could infer that the box creator was artistic or liked being creative.

Sticky notes the students wrote filled with inferences about their classmates based upon the items in the "Me Box"

Logistically, I had the boxes placed on the students' desks.  I asked each child in my class to go to one box and take time to look through it, making inferences on a sticky note.  After a few minutes, they put the sticky note on the box and moved to a different box.  They did this about 5 times.  I then gathered all of the sticky notes and put them on white paper.  We instantly had a bulletin board full of inferences!

A bulletin board full of inferences that the students made about their classmates!

My students LOVED doing this.  They were up and moving, making inferences, and learning about their classmates all at the same time.  The students were using academic language right in the first week of school without even really realizing it!  

How do you introduce inferring to your students?

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