LESSON TWO: Using Pre-reading Strategies: Infer
Students study and practice the use of inference based on reading content.
R1G The student will be able to orchestrate and apply reading comprehension strategies.
§ Sources of literature
o Picture of "The Scream" by Munch
§ Handouts provided
o “A Dream Deferred”
o “To My Dear and Loving Husband”
o "Death of the Hired Man"
§ Words to Know
o pre-reading strategies
Present Langston Hughes, “A Dream Deferred.” Without revealing the poet’s background, students explain what they can infer about him and/or his views based on the contents of the poem. Or, students read Frost’s “Death of the Hired Man.” Assign them to discuss what they can infer about the feelings of the three characters, Mary, Warren, and Silas. Specifically, ask them to discuss the conflicting feelings toward Silas by Mary and Warren and to explain how specific details support their inferences. Scoring guide provided.
1. Show Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” on an overhead. Ask students to study it silently for about five minutes and write what they see. Using these observations, ask students what might prompt the artist to create the painting.
Ask students what they can infer from a title before examining the work itself.
Present the “Mona Lisa” on an overhead. Consider what provokes the smile.
Focus on what characters’ statements reveal about their feelings.
In reading fiction, ask students to summarize what has changed in the story from its beginning to its end. Ask what the change suggests as to the work’s theme.
2. Students read one character’s poem from Edgar Lea Master’s Spoon River Anthology such as “Lucinda Matlock.” Students write down three things they can infer about the character based on what they read in the poem. Ask students what lines or phrases from the poem make them think these things about the character.
3. Given a passage from a work (e.g., Huck Finn and Tom discussing escape plans), identify through self-questioning what we can infer, predict, and/or visualize about a character’s personality. Or, using an overhead projector, present students with Anne Bradstreet’s “To My Dear and Loving Husband.”
4. Students read Robert Frost’s “Death of the Hired Man.” Assign them to discuss what they can infer about the feelings of the three characters, Mary, Warren, and Silas. Specifically, ask them to discuss the conflicting feelings toward Silas by Mary and Warren and to explain how specific details support their inferences.
(These questions are specifically for Anne Bradstreet’s “To My Dear and Loving Husband” but could easily be revised to use with other works).
What do you notice about the poet’s choice of words?
After reading the poem once, reread it. Without looking at the poem, what words or phrases do you recall? Which of these stand out? Why do these stand out?
Is this a contemporary poem or one from the past? What specific evidence from the poem itself that supports this opinion?
As you might have guessed, the poem is from the past. What about this poem’s language or ideas differ from what we would expect from something written today? Can you think of a contemporary work—song, poem, book, movie—that reflects similar ideas or uses similar language?
What do you know about the poet based on the evidence in the poem?
What term would you give for this kind of thinking about a text?
When and where did the poet write?
What can we infer about that society based on the poem?
If the poet and her husband were living in our society (almost 370 years after her death in New England), would the ideas she expresses be similar or different? Support your opinion with evidence from your experience and the poem.
Scoring Guide for “A Dream Deferred”
2 Makes a reasonable interpretation of the poet’s background and/or personal views using relevant details and examples from the poem by way of support.
1 Makes a reasonable interpretation of the poet’s background and/or personal views but uses only one relevant detail or example from the poem.
Scoring Guide for “Death of the Hired Man”
2 Makes a reasonable statement of all three characters’ feelings using relevant details and examples from the poem by way of support. Correctly identifies and supports ambiguous feelings of at least one character.
1 Produces a reasonable interpretation of the three characters’ feelings but it lacks specificity and/or relevance; or the answer does not explain the feelings of all characters or fails to identify any ambiguity on the part of any character.