On Monday I shared with you two of my students’ and my favorite activities for practicing making inferences: inference pictures and It Might Be… Today I’d like to share with you two more activities that we enjoy.
I am a big believer in activities that practice more than one skill (cross curricular activities are even better!), and just as the board game It Might Be… practices modal verbs, as well as inferences, the board game For Sure! is not just about making inferences. It also practices adverbs of degree and the future tense. Each square of the game board has a phrase of something that may or may not be possible in the future (i.e.: we will vacation on Mars). Students must make an inference as to the likelihood of this taking place using an adverb of degree and the future tense (i.e.: I believe we will definitely vacation on Mars someday.). The game is a quick, and fun, way to practice making silly inferences about the future. Since there are no right or wrong answers, the focus can remain on the grammar, and students have the freedom to be a little silly. When I play with more advanced students, I challenge them to go beyond a simple sentence and speak for at least 30 seconds, giving reasons to support their opinion.
There is, of course, a digital version of For Sure! The digital version features a specially coded script that adds a dice menu to the tool bar. This menu randomly generates a number between one and six, allowing students to “roll the dice” without ever leaving the game board. Other than this special addition, the game is played in the exact same manner. (You can see the blog post A Grinchy Christmas, Part 1, for suggestions on how we like to play digital board games.) See how to play the game for yourself in this video:
The last activity I’d like to share with you is Ambivalent Inferences. This activity was inspired by a YouTube video by Tolentino Teaching called Ambivalent: Creative Writing Activity. In the video, Tolentino explains the word ambivalent, and then challenges students to write a paragraph as if they were a famous person. The paragraph should describe something the person was ambivalent about. I thought this would be the perfect addition to our lesson on inferences because other students would have to make an inference about who the paragraph was describing. I made a quick Slides / PowerPoint activity that included the video about ambivalent, as well as a video defining the word inference, added a short explanation of my own, repeated the directions about writing a short paragraph, placed squares for students to type their inferences into, and added a grid for students to insert pictures of the famous people they were representing through writing. The whole process was very quick, and it makes for a nice addition to our practice.
The activity takes place in multiple stages. First, students watch the videos and write their paragraphs. Later, after I’ve looked over the paragraphs and checked that all is ready, students go back, read what others have written, and type their inference onto each slide. The picture grid at the end can give students hints as to who the mystery person might be, or you can remove it before doing the second part of the assignment.
As I said on Monday, my students always look very nervous when I first start explaining what an inference is, and it gets worse when I tell them we’ll be making inferences of our own. After these four activities, they are much more confident, and many of them are smiling and laughing. I hope your students will enjoy them as much as mine. Happy teaching, everyone!