Predictions and inferences are language arts concepts often used interchangeably , but they don’t mean the same thing. An inference in reading is to go beyond the author’s words to understand what is not said. A prediction is taking what the author writes and adding personal knowledge to make a smart guess about what might happen next in the story. The core is filled with standards that align to these concepts, but for our kids with social language impairments, it is tricky territory. One of my student’s asked me during a discussion on this topic, “How do you know what you know?” That question is a great place to start.
Using pictures to teach inference and predicting makes a lot of sense. One of the strategies we use is to make a movie or get a picture in your mind when we are talking about an idea or experience. Connecting a visual to a language concept is a powerful tool, particularly if someone has weak executive function skills like retrieval and working memory. Using pictures to make word maps like these at myeasybee.com , and show how to connect ideas really reinforces these concepts.
Help your student make personal connections to what they are reading about. For example, you student may have never visited Hawaii, but maybe they have been to a beach or have seen a palm tree. Personal connections make it much easier for students to put themselves in “someone else’s shoes” and they are asked to do this often in language arts literature.
I love using books with minimal words or just pictures to begin working on these skills. My new favorite is Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack. This simple book follows the adventures of a optimistic rabbit and his pessimistic mouse friend as they share experiences with very different points of view!
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