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Lesson Plan

Author Study: Improving Reading Comprehension Using Inference and Comparison

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

 
Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Seven 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Claudia Moberly

Claudia Moberly

Middleton, Alabama

Publisher

International Reading Association

 

Student Objectives

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5

Session 6

Session 7

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • Learn what inferences are by looking at an illustrator's work and listing assumptions about the illustrator before reading his biography

  • Practice comprehension skills by reading texts, observing illustrations, inferring information from the illustrations, comparing written texts, and identifying errors in texts

  • Demonstrate comprehension skills they have learned by studying a different author's work and biography and creating their own biography

  • Practice writing a specific genre, biography, including factual errors other students will discover using their own developing inference and comparison skills

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Session 1

1. Divide class into groups of approximately four students each and provide one or two Paul Goble books for each group. Ask students to look at the books, read them, and discuss their impressions of the author. Exchange books among groups and continue this process until each group has had an opportunity to review several of the selected titles.

2. As a class, discuss and record students' impressions of the author on chart paper. Questions to guide this discussion include:
  • What do you think this author's interests are? What makes you think this?

  • Where do you think he gets his ideas and inspiration? What makes you think this?

  • Does his work remind you of anything else you have seen or read? What and how?

  • Where do you think this author comes from? Why?
Responses should be saved for subsequent sessions.

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Session 2

1. Review the recorded impressions from Session 1 and talk about which things are accurate and which aren't. Ask students what kinds of information about an author/illustrator they can discover just by reading his or her books. Explain that when they identify this kind of information, it is called making inferences. Ask them how making inferences helps them better understand what they read.

2. Explain that authors tell stories that interest them and may or may not be related to their life experiences. Illustrators try to create a mood or feeling with the types of pictures they use. Inferring from text and pictures can help connect our personal background and experiences to the book by helping us recall a memory of a similar situation or feeling.

3. Talk about the limits of using inference-will they be able to get all of the information they need that way? Can they be sure of the accuracy of their inferences? Finding out additional information about an author or illustrator, beyond what they infer, can be important in verifying inferences or to expand their knowledge of a certain author. Knowing about an author affects how students read that writer's work by helping them understand the background of the author. This is important in comparing the work of different writers and understanding their points of view.

4. Explain that the Internet is a valuable source for information about authors/illustrators, many of whom have their own websites. Explain that this is the method you used to find out more information about Paul Goble, which you will share in the next session.

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Session 3

Note: If you do not have classroom computers, this session should take place in the computer lab.

1. Tell students you visited a website about Paul Goble and wrote up a short biography based on the information you found there. Discuss the characteristics of biographies. They contain facts about a person, are written by someone else, and contain details about the person's life. They may include strictly factual information (date and place of birth) and interesting character traits or details about the person. Distribute the Paul Goble Biography and give students time to read it.

2. Tell students that the biography you just gave them includes 10 errors. Explain that students should use the information they gained from looking at Paul Goble's books (their inferences) to try and identify the errors, marking them in the text with a check mark.

3. Distribute the Paul Goble Biography Corrections sheet. Direct students to the Paul Goble website and tell them they are to read the biography they find there, discover the errors in the biography handout (using a skill called comparison), and record the discrepancies on the corrections handout. Explain that comparison is like detective work-using information from different sources and noticing the differences between the texts.

4. Give students time to identify the 10 errors in the biography you gave them. (These are listed in the Paul Goble Biography Corrections Answer Key).

5. Ask students if these errors are the same or different from the errors they identified before looking at the website.

6. Ask students if any of the facts in the biography surprised them. (For example, they may have been surprised to find out Paul Goble was not from North America.) Students can mark these with a star. Talk about the fact that although drawing inferences is one way to get information, research is also important. Refining inferences based on research is another example of comparison (i.e., what I thought at first/what I later discovered).

7. Discuss what students learned from this activity. Remind them of the importance that background knowledge plays anytime they are reading and how it shapes their original inferences. This knowledge can come from their own observations or other reading experiences. Proficient readers are always making inferences, comparing the inferences to the text being read, then revising those inferences, using what they already know to build deeper understanding. Doing research to learn more about topics of interest to them is another way to build background knowledge.

Note: Students should save their Paul Goble Biography Sheets for use during Session 5.

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Session 4

Students will select an author/illustrator from the list you created (see Preparation, Step 3) and review the books by that person you have collected. While they are looking at the books, they should list inferences like they did with the Paul Goble books in Session 1. They should save this list of inferences to use during Session 5.

Note: It will be helpful to keep a listing of students' names and the author they have selected.

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Session 5

Note: If you do not have classroom computers, this session should take place in the computer lab.

1. Review the elements of a biography. Explain to students that they will now do research on the author/illustrator they chose during Session 4 and that they will use the information they find and their own inferences to write a biography of that author with 10 errors in it.

2. Distribute copies of the Biography Checklist and review it with students. Tell students they should use it, along with the Paul Goble Biography to guide their writing. They should also include 10 errors, which they record in the Biography Corrections Answer Key. Tell them that the list of inferences they created during Session 4 might come in handy here-any incorrect inferences might be used as plausible errors in their biographies.

3. Direct students to the author/illustrator websites you have bookmarked (see Preparation, Steps 3 and 4). Explain that they should look at the "biography" or "about the author" sections of the website for the author they have chosen. Students should also print these pages. They can also look at other pages of the websites to get information.

4. Students should research the author/illustrators they have chosen and draft their biographies. Circulate during this time to offer support or answer questions as needed.

Homework (due at the beginning of Session 6): Students who do not finish a rough draft of their author biography with 10 errors in it should do so for homework.

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Session 6

1. Ask students to reread what they have written and compare it to the pages they printed to make sure they have included enough errors. They should also edit for spelling, grammar, and punctuation as appropriate to your classroom writing process.

2. Once the incorrect biography is revised, students should also revise their Biography Corrections Answer Key as necessary.

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Session 7

Note: If you do not have classroom computers, this session should take place in the computer lab.

1. Once the biography and answer key are prepared, students will exchange their biography with another student. Allow students time to review the books. Remind them of the inferences done in previous sessions, and ask them to infer information about this new author. Inferences might help them begin to predict errors in the biography they are now reading. Ask them to mark their predictions with a checkmark, as they did in Session 3.

2. Each student will then access the author/illustrator website and find the discrepancies in the student-prepared biography, filling in a blank Biography Corrections Answer Key. Students will then check each other's work using their prepared answer keys.

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EXTENSIONS

Have students research and write additional erroneous biographies using the online Bio-Cube as a prewriting tool. All biographies and answer keys can be collected in a class notebook for students to use as independent learning activities.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Collect the inferences students wrote during Session 4, the biography page printed from each author/illustrator website, each student's biography and Biography Checklist, and two copies of the Biography Corrections Answer Key for each student—one for the biography they wrote and one for the corrections they found in the other student's biography.

  • Students will assess the accuracy of each other's work using the answer key they prepared while writing the biography.

  • Assess students' understanding of the biography genre by analyzing the kinds of substitute information students include in their written biographies. Are the substitutions of a like nature? Are they reasonable enough to seem plausible? Would the partner have to read both accounts to determine the errors? Did the student follow the checklist?

  • Assess biography corrections to determine reading comprehension. Were students able to find the discrepancies between the online text and the written text?

  • Hold a class discussion to make the inference and comprehension strategies students used conscious. Ask them to explain which answers matched their inferences and which ones did not, which errors were easiest to find, which ones were harder, and how they found the ones that were hard. Discussions like this are of benefit to students all along the continuum of comprehension success from literal to evaluative. For students with good comprehension, verbalizing their strategies will help clarify and internalize those strategies for future reading tasks. For students who struggle with comprehension, hearing peers explain their process will be useful on their next assignment.

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