Hello, I teach first grade. I am trying to plan some reading lessons for after vacation and I wanted to do a mini-lesson on making predictions. I came across a worksheet online for making predictions and it said to use what you read in the text plus what you know to make a prediction about what will happen next.
An example from the worksheet I found was:
"Jessie and Freddie put on their snow suits. They got their hats, boots, and scarves. They went outside and began to roll the snow in three large balls. They put the largest ball on the bottom and stacked the snow balls on top of each other. They went to look for two sticks."
I thought when you used background knowledge, you were making an inference, not a prediction. I was wondering if anyone could clarify the difference between these two comprehension strategies for me. I'd really appreciate it.
Given the story line you just gave me, it would be asking the kids to make an inference to ask them, "What season is it in this story? How do you know?" or "Why do you think they need two sticks?" or "What are the children doing?" It would be asking them to make a prediction to ask them, "What do you think will happen next?" or "Will Jessie's mom be surprised by their snowman? Why or why not?" It's asking them to make a prediction when we picture walk through the book, and peruse the cover, etc., and talk about what we may find within.
Inference and prediction, though, are closely related, and I'm not sure that we really have to draw a clear line between them, most times. Whether you call those questions inferring or predicting, it's just good comprehension strategies. Labels aren't that important.
Background knowledge is used to make both predictions and inferences, and needs to be activated throughout the reading process, throughout the entire book, whether you're teaching first grade or high school.
I actually made this distinction with my 5th graders a few years back. A prediction can be determined true, false or you need to change it... while an inference is merely a well supported thought that can be more supported or less supported. They are related, but an inference is definitely a higher level thought. A prediction should be made only on text evidence and on nothing else, while an inference combines text evidence/clues and PK (prior knowledge) to make an inference.
This is always a lively discussion and thought provoking! I have gleaned (like others who posted here) that when you predict, you predict outcomes that either happen or don't. Predictions should still be based on evidence though, so I respectfully disagree wiith curlygirl2's assumption that should be "text evidence and nothing else". We can still use a certain bit of background when predicting, for example weather. Based on what we already know know about gray skies in March we may "predict" it'll rain.
When one infers, you do use your background info + the text (or whatever) to support why you think ....We infer feelings, theme, sometimes settings, things that aren't necessarily spelled out for us as readers. These two are closely related and sometimes may not matter which to label it as long as readers are thinking!
Real cut and dry example between the two, especially when dealing with kids: Predicting deals with future events "will happen", when making an inference youre not restricted to this "future tense" and examine the facts in order to determine "relationship."
I've found that my 6th grade students often confuse the two as well. Often when I ask them to make inferences, they simply predict. I've told them that it's a question of time. A prediction is an educated guess about what WILL happen (future) and an inference is an educated guess about what IS happening (present) or HAS happened (past). Does that make sense to you all or does this seem like a mistake to teach it this way? As far as I can tell it helps them distinguish the two in a concrete way.