Inferences: Learning How to Make Them

Inferences:  Learning How to Make Them

…. It seemed that the pitch had barely left the southpaw’s hand when the ballpark resounded with a loud thwack. Morgan dropped his head in dejection as Ramirez began to trot the bases ….

What just happened here? Some readers will respond that the above passage is obviously a familiar baseball scenario – a misguided pitch that has been hit into a home run. But how do we know this? How can we tell that the passage is about baseball and that the event that has just transpired is the belting of a home run?

This short two-sentence passage is deceptively complex for readers. The author implies a number of things without directly stating them. In addition to picking up clues that refer to baseball, a reader must also figure out the identities of the pitcher and the batter. Finally, the reader must recognize the hint about how the pitcher felt about serving up the home run.

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Question the Author

Textbooks can sometimes skew information

“Position the factory applied nailing fin/drip cap upright for installation. Ensure drip cap lip hangs over the head jamb extrusion.”

The do-it-yourself nightmare! You are poised to undertake a project, and the enthusiasm you have kindled begins to fizzle as you are confronted with the inevitable set of incomprehensible directions and obscure illustrations. Who writes this stuff anyway?

Who indeed? Imagine for a moment the “author” who wrote the above guidelines for installing a window. Who does this writer think will be reading these instructions? What does the writer think this reader will already know? What expectations does the writer apparently have about the reader’s contribution to making sense of this document? What could the writer have done to make this writing more accessible? Is it any wonder that after a bout of increasingly irritated muttering, many people toss the directions aside and try to “wing it” through their project?

Teaching/Learning Activities:

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Reading Comprehension Strategies for GED Students

Comprehensive Reading is a very important skill for all students but it’s very challenging for GED candidates who didn’t attend school for some time. BestGEDClasses.org is a website that offers online classes and prepares students for the GED test. They identified six key reading strategies that help students develop their comprehension abilities.

Here we’ll take a closer look at these six strategies, and each one is a great help for students. These 6 strategies are:

    • Questioning
    • Visualizing
    • Inferring
    • Making Connections
    • Determining Importance
    • Synthesizing

All these strategies are important for comprehension, and they are representing the active mindsets that children need to assume if they want to become effective learners and readers. The steps required to teach these strategies are involving clear instruction.

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School Issues

We will also include several articles on experiences with local school districts and how attitudes can affect the education of a child with a disability. Here is an example.

Matthew began attending an Early Intervention class provided by our county board of MRDD when he was only eight weeks old.  He attended these classes for the next four years and made steady progress.  At age five, he was transitioned into the multi-handicapped unit in our school district.  This is a segregated special education class and the primary focus is teaching Reading and Life Skills.

By the time he was seven, I was concerned that Matthew hadn’t even begun to learn how to read or write.  During our annual IEP meeting I suggested that he begin learning academic skills such as reading and writing.

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Essential Questions: Helping Readers Focus

Essential Questions:  Helping Readers Focus

What makes a work of art great? Why do people find the painting Guernica by Picasso so compelling? What makes a Frank Lloyd Wright building so remarkable? Why is Aaron Copland’s lyrical Appalachian Spring such a heralded piece of music? What was it about Walker Evans’ photographs that renders his images so memorable? Why do generations keep discovering magic in a novel such as “To Kill a Mocking-bird?”

How do we explain the appeal of a Mozart opera, an Emily Dickinson poem, a Henry Moore sculpture, a Sergei Eisenstein motion picture, a Billie Holiday recording? How do we account for what makes some artistic works great? You will be confronted with these questions when you will begin your ACT or GED prep, with traditional books or following an online prep course.

Most of the questions that confront students in the ACT  curriculum are leading questions. Leading questions direct learning toward a set answer and are helpful in making sure that students are clear on key basic information. But essential questions help students dig deeper into a topic. Organizing a unit around essential questions involves the following steps:

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Question Dissection: Breaking It Down

Question Dissection: Breaking It Down

teacher with a group of high school students in classroom

“Discuss three ways Roosevelt’s New Deal changed the role of the federal government in America.”

“Should George have taken Lenny’s life at the end of the book? Justify your answer by citing specific material from Of Mice and Men.”

“Identify the various stages of the water cycle and describe what happens at each of these stages.”

The dreaded essay question! That looming empty space on the test page, waiting malevolently for evidence that you can actually talk about what you have learned.

Some students will take a quick glance at what the question seems to be about, and then quickly and incoherently unload whatever stray facts come to mind. Others will ponder painfully, start, stop, and start again.

Activities that help them analyze questions and understand how to approach writing essay answers will give them a better handle on succeeding on these test items.

Teaching/Learning Activities

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