Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pencil Tapping - A Learning Opportunity

I've been doing a lot of thinking about ways to help students understand inference. It all started during a reading intervention last week. Third graders were working on the inference strategy, and I asked them to tell me what they knew about inferences. The response was blank looks and silence. I went through the usual explanation without seeing any evidence of understanding. Noticing that one boy was tapping his pencil, I gently put my hand down on the pencil and asked him what he thought I would like him to do. He replied, "You want me to stop tapping my pencil." When I exclaimed that he had made an inference, the discussion and learning took off. The kids came up with some great examples of inferences that could be made in various situations.

This led me to investigate methods of helping students to become better readers by improving their ability to make inferences when they read. I found some great ideas:

A third grade class in Connecticut made this video on inferences - Mr. Salsich's class explains inferences

Learning how to infer with riddles - Inference Riddle Game, and with rhymes - Guess Who

Some good pictures for inference - Inferring from pictures

Another third grade class uses VoiceThread to make inferences about pictures - Mrs. Trivette's class on VoiceThread

This website developed by the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board has super activities for kids involving lots of reading strategies, including inference. A key to enter the kids' section is freeInto the Book

These entertaining and informative YouTube videos are also from the group in Wisconsin - Storylords

And to think that all of this interest, inquiry, and investigation started with a tapping pencil. I may never again view that as a disturbance. Then again ...