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Unlocking inference - big questions

Unit 5


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During this part of the unit, we see how simple retrieval and inference questions can be used to develop children’s understanding of a text, enabling them to access and answer the more complex, bigger questions that will be asked of them in, for example, SATs papers. Children are asked to bring together all the evidence they have gathered during a close read of the text, and apply this to the big question. They are encouraged to bring in multiple pieces of evidence to support their answers. Course creators Christine and Lindsay talk about how they compose big, inferential questions by looking at a text and considering what it is they discover from this reading, and the evidence they have to support this. If by doing this they discover they have picked up information that has not been explicitly stated, they then know where inferences have been made, and this supports the creation of really good questions. What this approach tries to avoid is the situation in tests where children jump to conclusions about comprehension, without evidence to support their ideas. To do this, teachers can work on modelling comprehension through shared writing. The important point being that it’s not about reading for speed, but spending a lot of time with one text to show children how to squeeze meaning from it.

Course Creator

Image of Christine Chen and Lindsay Pickton

Christine Chen and Lindsay Pickton

Christine and Lindsay are experienced English specialists based in Kingston upon Thames. They support numerous primary schools, alliances and federations. Both have worked in schools as senior literacy teachers and helped to launch and run school improvement programmes across their borough, and written for publishers including OUP, Pearson and Collins.

About the Course

This series of live lessons show a tried and tested approach to whole-class reading in action. We see how choral reading can improve fluency and comprehension for all pupils and how this leads to a close reading of the text and an exploration of vocabulary that unlocks inference for the class. It’s a process that gives children the skills they need to tackle comprehension questions at a higher level.

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