On one of my latest post, I shared with all of you part of our journey as readers where our ultimate goal is to become better at inferring so our comprehension can increase. If you would like to read the Part I of this post please click here. In Part I, I shared my students' work on making inferences by looking at the pictures in the story.
Our mentor text: The Story of Ruby Bridges
Language Structure: I can infer that___________________because_____________________(insert picture evidence from the book).
Our big discovery together: Inferring with pictures means not telling what I clearly see in the picture but what the picture means.
After several practice of inferring using pictures, we were ready to finally move on to the next step: Inferring using words/text. Here is what I do know as a teacher: how to teach inferring. Here is what I discover throughout our journey: they will guide me through my teaching, helping me decide what to teach next, how to break it down into more manageable chunks or what mini lesson I must prepare!!
One of the things that I have learned that worked very well with ELLs was to underline the text where they evidence for the inferring was provided. At times, this was a challenge for them to remember, but the expectations were always there. So, they knew it needed to be done.
One of our mini lessons (based on what the children were showing me they needed) was how to paraphrase information so that students showed their understanding. It did provided a new level of challenge, but at the same time a lot of vocabulary was learned in context. I also provided them with a list of adjectives (juicy words) to expand their knowledge.
Once again, my ELL students showed me that they can think at higher level if...
*some language structure and vocabulary was provided beforehand so their learning could be scaffolded. Eventually, they didn't need that list of adjectives anymore, they were acquiring vocabulary in authentic ways.
Here is my number ONE suggestion with any literacy activities you do with ELLs: give them plenty of oral language opportunities. Learners need to talk, think aloud, negotiate meaning, construct meaning together. We are a community of learners. Like Samantha Bennett, author of That Workshop Book would say, "The one who is doing the talking, is the one doing the thinking."
After we explore the book The Story of Ruby Bridges inside out, we synthesized all our learning together. This is what the children say about What Inferring is...and What Inferring is not, in their own words, of course!
Because a picture is worth a thousand words...here we go! Enjoy the journey!