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March 15, 2018

Inferences: A Storyworks Core Skills Workout

By Julie Ballew
Grades 3–5

    Like most teachers, I tend to be very picky about the resources I use in my classroom, and it’s not often that I love a resource completely. I may pick or choose parts of a resource, but there’s always some things that I don’t like as much as others. Not so with Storyworks. We use every piece of this magazine, cover to cover, and we love the online component as well. That’s why I was thrilled to find out about the book, Storyworks Core Skills Workout: Making Inferences.

    Year after year, inferring is one of the most challenging reading skills I teach, and it’s not for lack of practice. We make inferences about the world around us from the moment we wake up each day, but students don’t always make the connection between the inferring work they do in the world and the inferring work they do as readers. They always laugh when I ask them to look at a photo of someone whose face is scrunched into a scowl and infer how they are feeling. Inferring seems so easy to them when I pose a real-world scenario to them, but it’s a challenge for even my most proficient readers to make meaningful inferences about their reading. Thanks to this new “workout” from Storyworks, my students are getting better every day.

    My favorite thing about this resource is how it gradually releases several different types of inferring to my students. They start by looking at an image and making inferences. We do this work aloud, and students have miniature debates trying to defend their inferences when they disagree. This is an excellent precursor to using text evidence to back up their thinking. The workbook then moves to some guided practice, where I help my students make inferences about setting, plot, and characters. Finally, they get an opportunity to do this work on their own with an engaging text that is included right in the book!

    The article has opportunities for students to practice this skill with fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. It is not only diverse in the types of texts included, it also varies the types of responses students have to do. On some pages, they are asked to write an answer that may vary in length from a few words to a full page. Other pages include multiple-choice questions, and even though they all require the students to infer, they worded the questions in a variety of ways. This is great practice for standardized tests! The activities in the workout can also easily be used in small groups or in a whole-group discussion, which I have chosen to do several times.

    More than anything else, I am grateful for the thought that has gone into choosing images and texts that effectively capture my students’ attention. It is so much easier to push my students through a tough skill when they are working with a text that they actually want to read. As with the other resources in the Storyworks line, the team has also crafted an excellent teaching guide to accompany the Core Skills Workout. I am in Texas, and they even included a state-specific teaching guide for my state.

    So often, I become frustrated as I search for resources because it seems as if people who don’t live the life of a teacher wrote every one of them. Storyworks has been such a breath of fresh air for me, and this supplemental resource is no different. If you’ve been hunting for a new resource to support your teaching of inference, you just found it! Click here to check it out!

    For more ideas on how to use the magazine in your classroom, check out "How Storyworks Brought New Life to My Reading Groups." Have you tried Storyworks, Storyworks Jr., or any of the supplemental resources yet? Share with us in the comments section below.

    Like most teachers, I tend to be very picky about the resources I use in my classroom, and it’s not often that I love a resource completely. I may pick or choose parts of a resource, but there’s always some things that I don’t like as much as others. Not so with Storyworks. We use every piece of this magazine, cover to cover, and we love the online component as well. That’s why I was thrilled to find out about the book, Storyworks Core Skills Workout: Making Inferences.

    Year after year, inferring is one of the most challenging reading skills I teach, and it’s not for lack of practice. We make inferences about the world around us from the moment we wake up each day, but students don’t always make the connection between the inferring work they do in the world and the inferring work they do as readers. They always laugh when I ask them to look at a photo of someone whose face is scrunched into a scowl and infer how they are feeling. Inferring seems so easy to them when I pose a real-world scenario to them, but it’s a challenge for even my most proficient readers to make meaningful inferences about their reading. Thanks to this new “workout” from Storyworks, my students are getting better every day.

    My favorite thing about this resource is how it gradually releases several different types of inferring to my students. They start by looking at an image and making inferences. We do this work aloud, and students have miniature debates trying to defend their inferences when they disagree. This is an excellent precursor to using text evidence to back up their thinking. The workbook then moves to some guided practice, where I help my students make inferences about setting, plot, and characters. Finally, they get an opportunity to do this work on their own with an engaging text that is included right in the book!

    The article has opportunities for students to practice this skill with fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. It is not only diverse in the types of texts included, it also varies the types of responses students have to do. On some pages, they are asked to write an answer that may vary in length from a few words to a full page. Other pages include multiple-choice questions, and even though they all require the students to infer, they worded the questions in a variety of ways. This is great practice for standardized tests! The activities in the workout can also easily be used in small groups or in a whole-group discussion, which I have chosen to do several times.

    More than anything else, I am grateful for the thought that has gone into choosing images and texts that effectively capture my students’ attention. It is so much easier to push my students through a tough skill when they are working with a text that they actually want to read. As with the other resources in the Storyworks line, the team has also crafted an excellent teaching guide to accompany the Core Skills Workout. I am in Texas, and they even included a state-specific teaching guide for my state.

    So often, I become frustrated as I search for resources because it seems as if people who don’t live the life of a teacher wrote every one of them. Storyworks has been such a breath of fresh air for me, and this supplemental resource is no different. If you’ve been hunting for a new resource to support your teaching of inference, you just found it! Click here to check it out!

    For more ideas on how to use the magazine in your classroom, check out "How Storyworks Brought New Life to My Reading Groups." Have you tried Storyworks, Storyworks Jr., or any of the supplemental resources yet? Share with us in the comments section below.

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