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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Infer Meaning of Unknown Words

Our district uses the RTI model. This lesson was used with a group of "Tier 3" 5th graders. For those unfamiliar with RTI, "Tier 3" refers to the last level of intervention before special education referral. This lesson is based on a lesson from Debbie Miller's Reading with Meaning. (One of my favorite books! A wonderful wealth of resources!)

To begin, the students and I discussed ways to figure out unknown words in text. We came up with the following: use the pictures, what we already know, and other words in the text. I recorded these ideas on our anchor chart.

Then, I read aloud the book The Knight Who Was Afraid of the Dark. This book is full of wonderful, descriptive words for students to infer with. It is also very funny, which the kids really enjoy.

As we read, we identified unknown words in the text and added these to our anchor chart. We inferred the meaning of these words and identified what clues we used to infer. The students correctly inferred the meanings of most of the words. 

The following day, we began reading The Singing Man. This book contains many great words for students to infer with. Students independently read a few pages and identified unknown words. They used the graphic organizer below to infer the meanings of these words. Then we discussed the text and students' inferences together.

The graphic organizer can be found at Here is a look at one student's work after the first day:

For independent practice, students read the short story "Just a Girl." (found at This story describes how a young girl in Yemen proves to her father that she deserves to attend school. Students completed the graphic organizer to infer the meaning of unknown words independently with this story.

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