We have all said the magic phrase, "In order to infer, combine what you already know with what is in the text." Still, inference problems persist! For years, I scoured research, attended brain research workshops, and tried every strategy in the book to help those same persistent few learn how to infer. I learned that all inference problems are not made the same. Stating that a student has a difficulty with inferring is just as general as stating that a student is low in math. The biggest difference is that math language is very specific. Very specific skills can be narrowed down such as a student confuses area with perimeter, forgets to carrying during regrouping, etc.
Reading skills are not grouped so neatly. There are many reasons why a student could have difficulty with inferring. These reasons also vary from literature to informational text. Once I began to focus on the specific causes, I noticed a huge improvement in my students' ability to infer and ability to analyze subtle details. I broke students into groups. Some focused on connecting ideas across text to create mental models. This was based on reading research from Walter Kintsch. Others groups focused on building background knowledge about a wide range of topics. This was per the research from E.D. Hirsch. My students started to improve! They were excited, and I was even more happy for them. The students that I worked with across the grade levels made huge leaps in reading comprehension and inferring became so much easier.
Check back because I will be posting and showing pictures about additional ways to teach inferring to students. To access a document that contains specifically targeted and printable inference games from my store Click Here