Does anyone have any unique and creative game ideas or activities for reinforcing inference skills for junior high school students? I've done inference charades in the past, but I'm looking for something new and engaging!
this way, but I just don't like "games and activities" to teach language arts. While I understand that teachers want to make class fun, and that's very nice of them, this IS junior high, and let's face it, they're not at a birthday party. The best way I know to reinforce inference skills is to have them INFER in the book they're reading. I have my kids write me a letter about halfway through their book, in which they talk to me about the inferences they've made. If we're doing lit. circles, then I make very sure that we do LOTS of inferring.
Film is another great way to teach inference. I use Ice Age a lot for this. We watch the character of Diego change dramatically from the beginning to the end of the movie. Then we talk and write about HOW WE KNEW Diego was changing. No one tells us he's changing, but we understand that he is. How do we know? Facial expressions, music, dialogue....it all plays in. If we can get kids to harness in reading what they already do so well when they watch a film, we can get somewhere.
That is the closest I usually come to "games and activities" and it's actually neither. It's solid academics. I submit that everything we do must be carefully aligned with what they NEED. Games and activities don't teach as well as solid lessons. You can use "fun stuff" like movies, but the instruction is no game.
Thanks for the suggestions, maryteach. I appreciate your help! I agree with you that solid academic lessons must come before the "games and activities". However, I have found that reinforcing these skills (especially inferring, which can be a difficult skill for students to grasp) through creative means such as games truly helps students to take ownership of their learning! As I have taught junior high for a considerable about of time, I agree with you that this age group of students definitely needs practice applying skills like inferring while reading literature. But I also feel that incoporating unique teaching methods and cooperative learning activities helps my students, at least, to appreciate their learning experience more!
Thanks again for the tips and best of luck to you!
i've got quite a few great game ideas --- unfortunately my files are at school....i'd be glad to share them with you.
i agree with you..teaching inference to junior high students needs an uplift. as educators we have to take into account the different learning styles of students and i have found that games are not only engaging but can be differentiated to suite the needs of all students.
i have been a teacher for nearly twenty years and always look for new and inventive teaching methods. i for one am not a video person....i have always felt that children spend far too much time watching and not participating....while there are many excellent videos, i feel it's time to limit media consumption and get kids actively engaged.
i agree with maryteach that instruction is no game....if done with the students' best interests in mind, it requires a lot of preparation and creative techniques. why not make learning a birthday party --- at least students will walk out of my classroom smiling and hopefully retaining my lesson.
good luck, grammar geek. i'll check my school files tomorrow.
Last edited by Mrschalker; 09-20-2009 at 06:49 PM..
Reason: spelling error
While I don't teach junior high I did come across a fabulous book, "Comprehension Connections" by Tanny McGregor that I have been using to teach comprehension strategies BEFORE going right to the text. While I agree that students need to identify and relate these strategies to their reading I also think that concrete experiences assist in students connecting these strategies to something the know before applying to a piece of text....
Anyway, with regard to inferring my favorite lesson in the book for inferring involves the trash. I put together random items from my teenage son's room... a magazine, Ax spray, a Hollister clothes tag, church flyer, etc.. I put them in a small plastic bag like one from Target and told my students one morning, "OMGoodness, I have these new neighbors and I haven't been able to meet them, I want to see what they are like and today was garbage day, I saw this small bag and decided to take it and bring it to school. I need your help going through it. I thought maybe I would learn something....Later in the day I brought the bag out and took items out one at a time and listed them on chart paper and we began to build our "case" about where this bag came from, what we could learn about the person who owned the items, etc.,
As a result I never had to reteach what it meant to infer. This was so concrete my students were able to apply to their reading right away.
I LIKE that~! It makes the concept just really clear and I think I will use it. I still don't like games and activities because I really don't think that things "learned" in isolation really stick, but this is a bona fide lesson--and a good one, at that. Thanks~!
This reminds me of a lesson I used to do on primary sources when I taught social studies. I got the idea at a workshop. I did this the first week and gathered stuff about ME, put them in an old purse and told the class this had been found in an attic. We needed to act like historians and infer info about the purse's owner. I had things like a pink bootie (I have a daughter), a paperback (love to read), and so on. We would list inferences, then I would reveal it's all about me and would confirm or correct their inferences, introducing historical method. Like the 'neighbor's trash' idea, it could also be used for teacher intro and the idea of inference.
While I may agree with you somewhat in your belief, when teaching inference to the general population of students, I work with special needs kids, in high school and can tell you that often times incorporating games into learning is the only way you'll keep their focus. They need to be enticed and engaged in their learning and the "standard" way of teaching will not work with these students.
Trash bag idea sounds great. I just recently ran across the idea very similiar to yours and have already collected quite a few items to use tomorrow. I was looking for a fun way to refresh the student's mind before test day! I loved the way you introduced it to your students! Any fun ideas on main idea! Have tried using human details through charades.
Using activities and certain games to teach isn't all about having fun and pretending to be somewhere other than school (like a "birthday party"). I contend that there are many students who don't learn well unless there are hands-on activities involved, or a game that allows them to think "outside the box", if you will pardon that overused phrase. While games don't need to be an every day occurrance, many of my 8th graders appreciate the extra stimulation that comes with participating in an activity rather than the rote "read the passage, answer the question" type of classwork. Using games and activities to teach does not mean the teacher isn't taking the lesson seriously.
I love your 'neighbor's trash' idea. I did something similar this week. I have tons of old-fashioned handbags that are sort of interesting to look at and filled them with different items from around the house (an old silk scarf, empty snack bag or Kleenex container, an orange balloon, sample-sized perfume - anything, really!) and had my class separate into groups. They had to go through the handbags and draw a conclusion on what type of person would carry that type of bag with that stuff in it. It went over great and they came up with some interesting nad believable inferences! Of course, they had to back up everything they wrote with actual information provided by the items in the bags - which made for a great lesson on the differences between observation and inference!
The other activity we did was to look at old photographs from the 1800s, early 1900s. Some of them are so silly and hysterical - the kids loved to look at them. They had to draw conclusions about what was going on in the photo based on their observations.
I have found that using 30 second mysteries, allows the students to use educated guesses to solve the mystery. When the students try to solve the mystery I ask them "what's your inference" THroughout the lesson I remind them that educated guesses are inference.
I have found that using the game Taboo is beneficial when trying to inference. The concept is to describe something to someone and the other person has to figure out what you are trying to describe based on the clues given.
I also packed "suitcases" and with items and students had to fill out a sheet with the items in the case (the details) what we know about the items, and then an inference about where I was going with that suitcase.
Yes, kids are not at a birthday party, but learning should be fun. We need to teach so that ALL kids learn. Some students learn with hands on activities. Teachers who use games and activities are teaching "solid academics". They just choose to reach the kids in a fun way!
I love that you mentioned that games and activities do not teach as well as solid lessons. In my school we are required to spend a great deal of time allowing the students to complete self-guided games and activities. Needless to say, we are in school improvement in our state for the second year. I resigned. Thank you for pointing this out. Solid instruction works!!