This series of posts goes through the Key Knowledge and Skills for the new Area of Study 1: Reading and Exploring Texts for VCE English and EAL. Each post has a brief discussion of the Key Knowledge and Skills covered, some suggestions for resources, and five lesson activities. Even if you’re not an English teacher in Victoria, I hope you find the suggestions for activities and resources useful.
Inferential Reading and Viewing Strategies
Inferential reading is new to the 2023 Study Design, even though it’s something we’ve always taught. The first Key Knowledge, “inferential reading and viewing strategies”, suggests that teachers and students need to be familiar with multiple strategies for reading texts.
There are plenty of resources out there to help with broadening your understanding of reading strategies. Last year I put together an on demand video for the VCAA on reading strategies which discussed close reading, guided reading, and inferential reading. There’s also my Practical Reading Strategies which came out last year, and VATE’s latest publication Activating Reading Capabilities in English. Both of these books were based on a multi-year VATE Community of Practice Exploring reading, and looking at ways to get students engaged with texts and motivated to write.
Inferential reading, as the name suggests, is about inferring and “reading between the lines“. PRS has a chapter dedicated to inferring, including activities designed to get students to read passages more closely and multiple times. The idea of “multiple exposures to texts” came up in a discussion with the VCAA at the 2022 VATE conference, and is another reason why the skill of inferential reading has been made more apparent in the new Study Design.
Here are five suggestions for lesson activities which can target this Key Knowledge and Skill:
- Inferential Reading Strategy Scavenger Hunt: Provide students with a list of inferential reading strategies (see handout below) and have them apply each of these strategies to a passage from the set text. Have them write down the strategy they used, what they inferred, and the evidence from the text that led them to make the inference.
- Inferring Character Motives: Have students choose a character from the set text and brainstorm a list of possible motives for their actions. Have them use evidence from the text to support their inferences.
- Making Predictions: Divide the class into small groups and provide each group with a different section of the set text. Have them make predictions about what will happen next in the story based on the evidence they have read so far. Have each group share their predictions with the class and discuss any differences or similarities.
- Visualising Inferences: Have students close their eyes and visualise a scene from the set text based on their inferences about the characters, setting, and plot. Have them share their visualisations with a partner and discuss any differences or similarities.
- Inferential Reading Role-Play: Divide the class into small groups and assign each group a different scene from the set text. Have them act out the scene and make inferences about the thoughts and feelings of the characters based on their dialogue and actions. Have the groups share their scenes with the class and discuss any inferences they made.
Handout for activity one:
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AI Disclaimer: I used ChatGPT to construct parts of this series. I’ll be making a full post later outlining exactly what prompts I used and going through the entire process.