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Inferencing, or making connections among outside knowledge, individual experiences, and texts, aids in reading comprehension by helping readers fill in information that may not be literally stated in the text. The ability to make inferences develops with age, as readers begin to make deeper inferences based on their own knowledge, rather than from within the text itself. Understanding content-specific text in middle and high school increasingly calls for higher level Inferencing skills to fully connect Background Knowledge to new information.
Inferences are made during reading (online inferencing) and after reading (offline inferencing) during metacognitive reflection. This can include making predictions about text as well. Different types of inferences help readers put together a mental image of the text using information found within and outside of a text.
The two main types of inferencing are:
Advance graphic organizers link prior knowledge to upcoming learning to help students anticipate and understand the structure of new information.
When annotating, students engage deeply with a text and make their thinking visible while reading.
When adolescents can connect and communicate with authentic audiences about their interests and values, reading and writing become more personally meaningful and relevant.
For adolescent learners, the Composition process can become more robust, as learners begin to express ideas through multiple media, which includes visual, audio, and digital production.
When preparing for and debating with peers, students analyze, form, and express verbal arguments, fostering their critical thinking and literacy skills.
As part of a varied curriculum, explicit instruction in reading comprehension strategies from teachers can help older students use strategies meaningfully and flexibly.
Seeing and using new words repeatedly and in many contexts is critical for Vocabulary acquisition.
Research shows that, along with traditional reading comprehension strategies, students use unique strategies to read the non-linear, hyperlinked structure of online texts.
Interpreting and composing discipline-specific texts requires tailoring literacy strategies, like annotating or asking questions, to the disciplinary goals and practices.
Setting overall goals with actionable steps for achievement can help students feel more confident in their skills and abilities.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens their recall.
Opportunities for students to practice skills in context, with teacher support and also independently, helps to move concepts and ideas into Long-term Memory.
Journaling allows students to reflect on their thinking and feelings, process their learning, and connect new information to what they know.
Instruction in multiple formats allows students to activate different cognitive skills and Background Knowledge that are necessary to remember procedural and content information.
Providing multiple texts on the same topic or theme allows students to interact with multiple perspectives and develop their critical thinking skills.
Having students teach their knowledge, skills, and understanding to their classmates strengthens learning and increases Motivation.
Providing guiding prompts and questions for students to use when reading or participating in discussions deepens their understanding of texts and gives them space to question and grapple with issues of power, justice, and equity.
Teachers can provide individualized support through one-on-one conferences to assess reading comprehension, understanding of content, and spark further interest in reading.
Having culturally relevant reading materials, including multicultural and diverse texts, are critical for supporting all students.
During reading, giving students the opportunity to explain their thinking process aloud allows them to recognize the strategies they use, solidify their comprehension, and move knowledge into their Long-term Memory.
Wait time, or think time, of three or more seconds after posing a question increases how many students volunteer and the length and accuracy of their responses.
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