We can infer that they are probably married (first two sentences), that if Marjorie had expressed her wish more clearly, Ken would have agreed (he readily agreed), and that all couples can have communication problems (first sentence). Which of these is the central point that is implied here? All couples can have communication problems.
Slept in two nights? – mites probably keeping her up – also pain She doesn’t have the ability to wash her bedding – no access to sanitary needs She doesn’t eat regularly Sweeper of the stairwell gives her some dignity She feels the stairs getting steeper – she’s been doing this a long time She lives under the letter boxes She’s not going to meet a happy end
What Are Inferences?What Are Inferences?
Inferences are often referred to as whatInferences are often referred to as what
you “read between the lines.”you “read between the lines.”
The meaning is really found “between yourThe meaning is really found “between your
Inferences are what the author implies orInferences are what the author implies or
The author wants you, the reader, toThe author wants you, the reader, to
make the jump to the same conclusion themake the jump to the same conclusion the
author has made.author has made.
When the authorWhen the author impliesimplies something, thesomething, the
reader has toreader has to infer.infer.
(Zimmermann and Hutchins, 2003, p. 97).(Zimmermann and Hutchins, 2003, p. 97).
What Happens When You Read?What Happens When You Read?
While you read, your inside voice:While you read, your inside voice:
– Makes guessesMakes guesses
– Finds connecting pointsFinds connecting points
– Asks questionsAsks questions
– Makes predictionsMakes predictions
– Personalizes the readingPersonalizes the reading
– Uses background knowledge to interpretUses background knowledge to interpret
Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003, p. 97.
The Game ofThe Game of ClueClue
The game ofThe game of ClueClue is an inference game.is an inference game.
You are never told who killed Mr. Boddy,You are never told who killed Mr. Boddy,
but you may be told who did not kill him.but you may be told who did not kill him.
You gather clues so you canYou gather clues so you can inferinfer whowho
really killed Mr. Boddy.really killed Mr. Boddy.
All mystery shows are based on inference:All mystery shows are based on inference:
– Murder, She WroteMurder, She Wrote
– Law and OrderLaw and Order
– Scooby DooScooby Doo
Let’s PlayLet’s Play Clue!Clue!
Based on the following clues, decide:Based on the following clues, decide:
– Who killed Mr. BoddyWho killed Mr. Boddy
– Where Mr. Boddy was killedWhere Mr. Boddy was killed
– With what weapon Mr. Boddy was killedWith what weapon Mr. Boddy was killed
The usual suspects are: Mrs. Peacock,The usual suspects are: Mrs. Peacock,
Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlet, Mr. Green,Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlet, Mr. Green,
Mrs. White, and Professor PlumMrs. White, and Professor Plum
The rooms are: the kitchen, the ballroom,The rooms are: the kitchen, the ballroom,
the library, the study, the conservatory,the library, the study, the conservatory,
and the game roomand the game room
The weapons are: the candlestick, theThe weapons are: the candlestick, the
knife, the revolver, the rope, the wrench,knife, the revolver, the rope, the wrench,
and the lead pipeand the lead pipe
The RulesThe Rules
You have each been given one card.You have each been given one card.
Whatever is on your card wasWhatever is on your card was notnot involvedinvolved
in killing Mr. Boddy.in killing Mr. Boddy.
You each will be able to ask one classmateYou each will be able to ask one classmate
to reveal his or her card to the entire class.to reveal his or her card to the entire class.
You may make a guess at any time.You may make a guess at any time.
Your guess must include all three: theYour guess must include all three: the
murderer, the weapon, and the room.murderer, the weapon, and the room.
Once you guess, you cannot guess again.Once you guess, you cannot guess again.
So, How Did You Infer TheSo, How Did You Infer The
You used background knowledge:You used background knowledge:
– You knew who the suspects wereYou knew who the suspects were
– You knew the rooms involvedYou knew the rooms involved
– You knew the possible weaponsYou knew the possible weapons
You asked questions of classmatesYou asked questions of classmates
You made predictions based onYou made predictions based on
changing informationchanging information
– Your predictions changed as youYour predictions changed as you
continued to gain informationcontinued to gain information
When Do We Infer?When Do We Infer?
We infer all the time.We infer all the time.
““Feeling empathy for characters,Feeling empathy for characters,
laughing at a joke, discovering anlaughing at a joke, discovering an
answer to a riddle, getting a senseanswer to a riddle, getting a sense
about the setting of a story, reactingabout the setting of a story, reacting
to facts, and solving a mystery areto facts, and solving a mystery are
all part of inferential thinking.”all part of inferential thinking.”
(Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003, p. 115).(Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003, p. 115).
A Simple InferenceA Simple Inference
If the skies suddenly grow veryIf the skies suddenly grow very
cloudy and the wind begins to whipcloudy and the wind begins to whip
around your legs, how do you infer?around your legs, how do you infer?
– You have seen this weather patternYou have seen this weather pattern
– You have background knowledge aboutYou have background knowledge about
– You make connections between yourYou make connections between your
background knowledge and the currentbackground knowledge and the current
weather pattern.weather pattern.
– Based on these connections, you makeBased on these connections, you make
a prediction.a prediction.
Let’s Use Background KnowledgeLet’s Use Background Knowledge
Even couples with only mild difficulties inEven couples with only mild difficulties in
communicating can have importantcommunicating can have important
misunderstandings. Marjorie, for example, wantedmisunderstandings. Marjorie, for example, wanted
Ken to invite her to a favorite cocktail loungeKen to invite her to a favorite cocktail lounge
overlooking a bay to celebrate their anniversary.overlooking a bay to celebrate their anniversary.
She archly asked him, “Ken, do you feel like goingShe archly asked him, “Ken, do you feel like going
out for a drink tonight?” Ken, who was feelingout for a drink tonight?” Ken, who was feeling
tired, missed the hidden message contained in hertired, missed the hidden message contained in her
question. He responded, “No, I’m too tired.”question. He responded, “No, I’m too tired.”
Marjorie was extremely disappointed. Only afterMarjorie was extremely disappointed. Only after
feeling hurt and sorry for herself did she realizefeeling hurt and sorry for herself did she realize
that she had not communicated to Ken her realthat she had not communicated to Ken her real
desire – to celebrate their anniversary. When shedesire – to celebrate their anniversary. When she
later made clear her true wish, he readily agreedlater made clear her true wish, he readily agreed
to celebrate.to celebrate.
Beck,Beck, Love is Never EnoughLove is Never Enough
What Can You Infer?What Can You Infer?
Marjorie and Ken are probably married?Marjorie and Ken are probably married?
Marjorie and Ken have been married for aMarjorie and Ken have been married for a
long time?long time?
Ken does not enjoy going out for drinksKen does not enjoy going out for drinks
with his wife?with his wife?
If Marjorie had expressed her wish moreIf Marjorie had expressed her wish more
clearly, Ken would have probably agreed?clearly, Ken would have probably agreed?
All couples can have communicationAll couples can have communication
Which of the assumptions listed below can be inferred from the text?
You Used Your BackgroundYou Used Your Background
Married couples have anniversaries.Married couples have anniversaries.
Couples married both a short timeCouples married both a short time
and a long time have anniversaries.and a long time have anniversaries.
Married couples you know have hadMarried couples you know have had
misunderstandings and hurt feelings.misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
You Used Hints in the Text andYou Used Hints in the Text and
Asked Yourself QuestionsAsked Yourself Questions
Ken “readily agreed” is a clue. You askedKen “readily agreed” is a clue. You asked
yourself, “Does this mean he didn’tyourself, “Does this mean he didn’t
understand at first?”understand at first?”
““No, I’m too tired,” is a clue. You made aNo, I’m too tired,” is a clue. You made a
connection to this statement andconnection to this statement and
Marjorie’s hurt feelings.Marjorie’s hurt feelings.
““For example” is a clue that a story isFor example” is a clue that a story is
coming. You could predict that the authorcoming. You could predict that the author
was going to give a specific example, orwas going to give a specific example, or
story, to illustrate the point.story, to illustrate the point.
Let’s Look At Another StoryLet’s Look At Another Story
Boori Ma, sweeper of the stairwell, had not slept in two
nights. So the morning before the third night she shook the
mites out of her bedding. She shook the quilts once underneath
the letter boxes where she lived, then once again at the mouth
of the alley, causing the crows who were feeding on vegetable
peels to scatter in several directions.
As she started up the four flights to the roof, Boori Ma
kept one hand placed over the knee that swelled at the start of
every rainy season. That meant that her bucket, quilts, and the
bundle of reeds which served as her broom all had to be braced
under one arm. Lately Boori Ma had been thinking that the
stairs were getting steeper; climbing them felt more like
climbing a ladder than a staircase. She was sixty-four years old,
with hair in a knot no larger than a walnut, and she looked
almost as narrow from the front as she did from the side.
Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies, as printed in Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003, pp. 95-96.
Questions And Observations YouQuestions And Observations You
Can Make About This PassageCan Make About This Passage
Why hasn’t Boori Ma slept in two nights?Why hasn’t Boori Ma slept in two nights?
Why doesn’t she wash her bedding to get rid of theWhy doesn’t she wash her bedding to get rid of the
Why is she so thin?Why is she so thin?
Why does she have such as formal title – “sweeperWhy does she have such as formal title – “sweeper
of the stairwell”?of the stairwell”?
How long has she been doing this?How long has she been doing this?
Your background knowledge tells you that she isYour background knowledge tells you that she is
very poor (her living conditions).very poor (her living conditions).
Your background knowledge may also tell you howYour background knowledge may also tell you how
it feels to be infested by pests like mites or liceit feels to be infested by pests like mites or lice
What will happen to this woman?What will happen to this woman?
Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003, pp. 96-97.Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003, pp. 96-97.
Guiding Questions To Help WithGuiding Questions To Help With
The author gave me a gift in the title.The author gave me a gift in the title.
What prediction popped into my head fromWhat prediction popped into my head from
it? How does it help me?it? How does it help me?
Now that I’ve almost finished thisNow that I’ve almost finished this
passage, can I confirm my predictions?passage, can I confirm my predictions?
What message do I think the writer wantsWhat message do I think the writer wants
me to understand? How will this help meme to understand? How will this help me
remember the reading?remember the reading?
What words helped me reach myWhat words helped me reach my
How can I explain my inference toHow can I explain my inference to
somebody else?somebody else?
Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003, pp. 116-117Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003, pp. 116-117
Mr. PerfectMr. Perfect
The minister asked for anyone who knew a
truly perfect person to stand up. After a long
pause, a meek-looking fellow in the back stood.
“Do you really know a perfect person?” he was
“Yes, Sir, I do,” answered the little man.
“Would you please tell the congregation who
this rare, perfect person is?” pursued the
“Yes, Sir, my wife’s first husband.”
Bonham, The Treasury of Clean Jokes
Questions and Observations forQuestions and Observations for
“Mr. Perfect”“Mr. Perfect”
How did the title help you?How did the title help you?
Did your prediction of who the perfectDid your prediction of who the perfect
person was hold true?person was hold true?
What message is the author conveying?What message is the author conveying?
How did your background knowledge helpHow did your background knowledge help
you interpret the message?you interpret the message?
What do you think the little man’s wifeWhat do you think the little man’s wife
does to him at home?does to him at home?
Why did the author decide to make theWhy did the author decide to make the
man “little”?man “little”?
How can you explain your inferences toHow can you explain your inferences to
somebody else?somebody else?
What Statements Can be LogicallyWhat Statements Can be Logically
1.1. The minister is surprised when the manThe minister is surprised when the man
stands up.stands up.
2.2. The minister is doubtful that the manThe minister is doubtful that the man
really knows a perfect person.really knows a perfect person.
3.3. The man believes that his wife’s firstThe man believes that his wife’s first
husband is perfect.husband is perfect.
4.4. The wife believes that her first husbandThe wife believes that her first husband
is perfect.is perfect.
5.5. The man’s wife has been comparing himThe man’s wife has been comparing him
unfavorably with her first husband.unfavorably with her first husband.
The Rallying Power of Recorded MusicThe Rallying Power of Recorded Music
Released in 1984, “We Are the World” right away was the fastest-
climbing record of the decade. 4 million copies were sold within
six weeks. Profits from the record, produced by big-name
entertainers who volunteered, went to the USA for Africa project.
The marketplace success paled, however, next to the social
impact. The record’s message of the oneness of humankind
inspired one of the most massive outpouring of donations to date.
Americans pumped $20 million into USA for Africa in the first six
weeks the record was out. Within months, $50 million in medical
and financial support was en route to drought-stricken parts of
Africa. “We Are the World,” a single song, directly saved lives.
The power of recorded music is not a recent phenomenon. In
World War I, “Over There” and other records reflected an
enthusiasm for American involvement in the war. Composers who
felt strongly about the Vietnam War wrote songs put their views
on vinyl. “The Ballad of the Green Berets” cast American soldiers
in a heroic vein, “An Okie from Muskogee” glorified blind
patriotism, and there were antiwar songs, dozens of them.
Vivan, The Media
Internal QuestionsInternal Questions
What does the title tell me?What does the title tell me?
What background knowledge can IWhat background knowledge can I
draw on to understand this passage?draw on to understand this passage?
What message does the author wantWhat message does the author want
me to understand?me to understand?
What words helped me reach theseWhat words helped me reach these
How can I explain these inferencesHow can I explain these inferences
to somebody else?to somebody else?
What Can We Correctly Infer?What Can We Correctly Infer?
1.1. ““We Are the World” was the best-sellingWe Are the World” was the best-selling
song of all time.song of all time.
2.2. ““We Are the World” would not have beenWe Are the World” would not have been
a popular song if the profits had not gonea popular song if the profits had not gone
to a charitable cause.to a charitable cause.
3.3. Americans would not have contributed asAmericans would not have contributed as
much to USA for Africa had “We Are themuch to USA for Africa had “We Are the
World” not been recorded.World” not been recorded.
4.4. ““Over There” was a patriotic song,Over There” was a patriotic song,
supporting US involvement in WW I.supporting US involvement in WW I.
5.5. During the Vietnam War, patriotic songsDuring the Vietnam War, patriotic songs
were more popular than antiwar songs.were more popular than antiwar songs.
Practicing This StrategyPracticing This Strategy
The short story, “The Puzzle,” isThe short story, “The Puzzle,” is
continued on the next slide.continued on the next slide.
Read this portion of the storyRead this portion of the story
carefully. You may also decide tocarefully. You may also decide to
review previous portions of the storyreview previous portions of the story
to assure you recall the highlights ofto assure you recall the highlights of
the characters and the plot.the characters and the plot.
“The Puzzle” by Anonymous
“Pugh, what I hear is the reverberation of some machinery.”
“Do you think so?”
“I’m sure of it.”
“What have you done?”
“Broken something, I fancy.” He listened intently, with his ear to the box. “No – it seems all
right. And yet I could have sworn I had damaged something; I heard it smash.”
“Give me the box.” He gave it to me. In my turn, I listened. I shook the box. Pugh must have
been mistaken. Nothing rattled; there was no wound; the box was as empty as before. I gave
a smart tap with the hammer, as Pugh had done. Then there certainly was a curious sound. To
my ear, it sounded like the smashing of glass. “I wonder if there is anything fragile inside
your precious puzzle, Pugh, and, if so, if we are shivering it by degrees?”
“What IS that noise?”
I lay in bed in that curious condition which is between sleep and waking. When, at last, I KNEW
that I was awake, I asked myself what it was that had woke me. Suddenly I became conscious
that something was making itself audible in the silence of the night. For some seconds I lay
and listened. Then I sat up in bed.
“What IS that noise?”
It was like the tick, tick of some large and unusually clear-toned clock. It might have been a
clock, had it not been that the sound was varied, every half dozen ticks or so, by a sort of
stifled screech, such as might have been uttered by some small creature in an extremity of
anguish. I struck a light. The sound seemed to come from the neighborhood of my dressing-
table. I went to the dressing-table, the lighted match in my hand, and, as I did so, my eyes
fell upon Pugh’s mysterious box. That same instant there issued, from the bowels of the box, a
more uncomfortable screech than any I had previously heard. It took me so completely by
surprise that I let the match fall from my hand to the floor. The room was in darkness. I stood,
I will not say trembling, listening – considering their volume – to the EERIEST shrieks I ever
heard. All at once they ceased. Then came the tick, tick, tick again. I struck another match and
lit the gas.
What Inferences Can YouWhat Inferences Can You
Reread this portion of “The Puzzle” toReread this portion of “The Puzzle” to
Think about the inferences you have madeThink about the inferences you have made
about parts of the story.about parts of the story.
Complete the double-entry journal page.Complete the double-entry journal page.
Choose your own quotes from the story onChoose your own quotes from the story on
which to make inferences.which to make inferences.
Be prepared to discuss your connectionsBe prepared to discuss your connections
with this part of the story in class.with this part of the story in class.
So, When We Infer, We…So, When We Infer, We…
Make inferences based on soundMake inferences based on sound
Use background knowledge to makeUse background knowledge to make
connections and personalize the reading.connections and personalize the reading.
Ask internal questions while reading.Ask internal questions while reading.
Make predictions and confirm or discardMake predictions and confirm or discard
them as we continue reading.them as we continue reading.
Try to recognize the author’s purpose andTry to recognize the author’s purpose and
Make inferences using what is “betweenMake inferences using what is “between
our ears.”our ears.”
“Writers give clues, but
readers have to amass the
evidence and draw conclusions
Zimmerman and Hutchins, 2003, p. 106
Anonymous. “The Puzzle.”Anonymous. “The Puzzle.”
Beck, Aaron.Beck, Aaron. Love is Never Enough.Love is Never Enough. NY:NY:
HarperCollins, 1988.HarperCollins, 1988.
Bonham, Tal D.Bonham, Tal D. The Treasury of Clean Jokes.The Treasury of Clean Jokes.
Nashville, Broadman Press, 1981.Nashville, Broadman Press, 1981.
Pratt, Anthony E.Pratt, Anthony E. Clue.Clue. NY: Parker Brothers,NY: Parker Brothers,
Vivian, John.Vivian, John. The Media of Mass Communications.The Media of Mass Communications.
Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1997.Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1997.
Wintner, Gene.Wintner, Gene. The Reading Quest.The Reading Quest. Boston: AllynBoston: Allyn
and Bacon, 2000.and Bacon, 2000.
Zimmerman, Susan, and Hutchins, Chryse.Zimmerman, Susan, and Hutchins, Chryse. 77
Keys to Comprehension.Keys to Comprehension. NY: Three Rivers Press,NY: Three Rivers Press,
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