Thursday, October 9, 2014

An Inference Exercise

I've used this one to good effect.

The following piece of straightforward text invites rather complex forms of inferential reading and thinking.  

He put down $20.00 at the window.  The woman behind the window gave $4.00.  The person next to him gave him $8.00, but he gave it back to her.  So, when they went inside, she bought him a large -----.

The last word is important!  It gives some vital information.

A lot of students guess MOVIES without even hearing "popcorn."  When I say "cotton candy" they say CARNIVAL or what we call around here THE PUYALLUP (our regional fair).  Since it is "popcorn," we agree they're at the MOVIES.

We also sort out who these people are (probably on a date), how old they likely are (young--teens, young adults, as older adults more likely used credit cards), and where they are--in the timeline of their relationship (earlier, as they're still figuring out payment).

Though, being  inferences, we can't be certain these conclusions are correct, which we discover by way of...

...another practice.

Timmy hung his head dejectedly after the loud thwack as Billy trotted around the bases.  What just happened?

I ask "Who thinks it's some sort of sporting event?"  They all do, so I say "You're's this:"

We discuss that it is possible that a fun-run around the two military bases could take place, and Timmy could whack his head on a pole while Billy keeps trotting along.  But it's much more likely that Billy just hit a home run off Timmy.  Thus dejected Timmy and trotting Billy.

After this, everybody is ready to think about how they make inferences ALL the time, and understand that inferences are

--More than educated guesses, they
--Reasonable conclusions based on what you're reading, combined with what you already know, to determine the most likely possibility.


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