In case you haven’t noticed, read-aloud (chapter book) time in our room is a big deal. This ain’t no lay-on-the-floor-and-rest-after-recess-time. My kids will tell you that read-aloud is one of the most important times of the day–we use the chapter book to connect to reading, writing, vocabulary and many other things.
Right now we are deep in the middle of The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell. In Reader’s Workshop, we’re working on inferring in fiction text. So today as we read our chapter book, we focused on noticing and recording inferences we were making about the story. We reviewed the meaning of inferring (which we defined as background knowledge + text=inference), and then got started. There were a couple of parts when I paused in my reading to say “You might be able to infer something here,” but for the most part I just left them to their listening and thinking. Then I read a sentence and K, who was sitting right in front of me made a rather loud noise, somewhere in between a gasp and a screech. She covered her mouth, grinned, and then scribbled something in her notebook. And I knew exactly what she was thinking. She had figured out something in the story–she had made an inference.
Now, every time you infer something in a story, you don’t make a big deal like that; it’s not always so obvious. But this was a really great illustration for us. Some kids in my class have a hard time knowing when they are inferring; they know what to do, but they don’t always attend to when they’re doing it. But I’ll but from today on, they will know that when you have a “light bulb moment”, when you say “Ahh! Now I get it!” or when you think “aha!”, you’re probably inferring. It was cool to watch several others do the very same thing–most without the screech–as we continued to read. And I’ll bet we’ll notice more of it tomorrow. I love how the thing that really made it visible, too, is something I couldn’t have planned for (the best learning moments happen like that!). It came very naturally, and was really powerful for them. Next time you think “aha!” or have a “light bulb moment”, pay attention –you might be inferring something, too. 🙂
I love this! What types of things do you have your students do while you’re reading aloud? We usually pause and talk, but I’d love to give them something to do in their journals while I’m reading. Any ideas you have, I’d love to hear!
Rebecca, thanks for reading! We use the same structure for read aloud that we learn in Reader’s Workshop, based on comprehension strategies. At the beginning of the year we brainstorm all of the different kinds of things that good readers do (make connections, ask questions, create images, make predictions, infer, etc.) and then start doing these things as listeners, like we’ve been doing as readers. We also sometimes do Behavior Over Time graphs to chart changes in characters. And honestly, most of the time, my kids are just writing what’s on their minds as they listen. Often it’s things that don’t fit into any of those categories! For me, it’s the thinking that matters, and their ability to share that thinking in an organized way with another reader/listener.