“It’s the stuff between the lines,
the empty space between those lines which is interesting.”
Robert Carlyle, actor
What is Inferring?
• Inferring is reading between the lines.
• Inferring allows us to think beyond the text.
• Inferring is something we do naturally every day.
• Inferences come from our experiences, facts, and our imagination.
• When you infer, you look for suggestions or clues. These clues paired with our own
experiences allow us to attempt to make inferences.
• Inferring helps us to make deductions in a short period of time: students become “book
• Students learn that some authors leave out information or write very little text to leave
clues for the reader to discover and interpret.
• Some students may need more time to infer and process the information than others.
• Is a prediction the same as an inference? According to Adrienne Gear, a prediction is a
level one inference. By the time you are done the book, your prediction is verified. With
an inference, things may not be verified in the text and your thinking keeps going.
Where to Start?
1. Play the Inferring Game:
a. Make a pose that projects a feeling: the pose should give clues to your feeling.
Hold the pose momentarily. Have students try to infer what you are feeling.
Encourage them to reply with, “I infer …”.
2. Inferring from Word Clues:
a. Have an emotion written on a word card (disappointed, frustrated, etc.). Ask a
student to leave the room, show the class the word (they are not allowed to say
it). Tell the students in the room to think of a time they felt that way, invite the
student back into the room. The returning student will listen to the clue given by
another student and then try to infer what the word is.
3. Prepare an anchor chart to summarize what students have leaned about inferring.
4. OWI Observe – Wonder- Infer
a. Blackline masters are found on page 81 – 86 of Nonfiction Reading Power (Gear,
Inferring: Becoming a Detective
Look for the Clues
Ask yourself, “What do I know from the clues?”
Ask yourself, “What do I NOT know?”
“What is missing?”
Use the clues plus your experience and background
knowledge to “fill in” or figure out what is missing.
Begin your inference with “I think…” or “Maybe…”
My guess is …
It could be that
This could mean …
I predict …
I infer …
Schema – is our background knowledge, text clues, and experiences
The Inferring Umbrella
(Harvey & Goudvis)
Harvey and Goudvis teach visualizing and inferring at the same time since they believe the two
strategies are closely related. Harvey and Goudvis make relay that visualizing strengthens ones
inferential thinking and that when we visualize, we are inferring with mental images.
When we use inferential thinking, we teach students to draw conclusion or make predictions.
The use of context clues is employed. Inferential thinking can enhance understanding. Harvey
and Goudvis use an analogy of an umbrella when representing inferring. “Inferring is about
reading faces, reading body language, reading expressions, and reading tone as well as
reading text” (Harvey & Goudvis, p. 138).
Merging background knowledge with clues in the text to come up with an idea
that is not explicitly stated by the author. Reasonable inferences need to be tied to
Making predictions Inferring relationships
Predicting outcomes, upcoming events, and Setting to plot
actions Cause and effect
Using context to figure out the meaning of Character’s feelings and motives
unfamiliar words/concepts Inferring author’s purpose
Interpreting the meaning of language Creating interpretations based on text evidence
Figurative language Using text evidence to surfact themes and big ideas
Idiomatic language Inferring the meaning of text features and visuals
Metaphoric language Inferring the answer to questions
Visualizing Drawing conclusions based on text evidence
Constructing meaning with a visual image
Inferring creates a picture, movie, or slideshow
in the mind
The Inferring Umbrella, Harvey &Goudvis (2007) p. 132
Gear, Adrienne. (2008). Nonfiction Reading Power. Ontario, Canada. Pembroke Publishers.
Gear, Adrienne. (2006). Reading Power. Ontario, Canada. Pembroke Publishers.
Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (207). Strategies That Work. Pembroke Publishers.
McGregor, Tanny. (2007). Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading. Portsmouth, NH. Heinemann.
The Connection Between
Questioning and Inferring
Questions that make us think beyond the literal understanding are a pathway to
Gear introduces the “power to question” separately in Reading Power, and links the
connectedness of the two in Nonfiction Reading Power.
Harvey and Goudvis believe that inferring and visualizing are woven together.