Inferencing in the early years

This week I’m writing about inferencing.

It’s nearly 5 months into the Australian academic year for our Foundation to Year 2 students and teachers have built Reading Workshops where students build sufficient reading stamina for guided groups to run, where learning intentions are clear and understandable, where schema particularly text to self, text to text connections have been a focus, where predictive skills have been a focus alongside rhyme, letter identification and phonics (initial consonant sounds). So in summary the team has covered a great deal in Reading and now alongside consolidation of current work and continued work now in phonics (complete the 44 sounds, blending and segmenting) it was time to consider what other comprehension skills the data suggested our students needed and inferencing was next.

Narrative stories are the focus of our genre studies and inferring characters’ intentions and feelings seems a natural progression. Fountas and Pinnell in the Year 1 and 2 (p 133) suggest talking about pictures to show an interpretation of a problem can be effective before we talk about characters’ feelings. As students’ progress, they start to discuss evidence to support their inference. Eventually students might be able to infer and talk about characters’ feelings, motives and attribute and the causes for these, perhaps even cause and effect.

I observed a teacher in training recently use this photo to promote student inferencing talk. She scaffolds the students with some sentences starters and got the following:

I can infer that it’s a hot day because the photo shows ice cream has melted.

Other possible photos to use might include:






During these sessions we might build some anchor charts about inferencing.

I was referred to a blog post that explains the difference between prediction and inferencing, which I believe confuses many children.






















We may then be ready to use these skills as we model inferencing on picture fiction texts. Two good texts are – but I’m sure my readers can find many others (including fables for years 2-6 which are perfect for inferring the morale of stories).












If you can add anything to the post please do so.

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