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Maci Majors


Teaching Reading: Mini Lesson Format (Calkins, 2001)

Targeted Literacy Strategy or Skill: To learn the inferring equation, BK+TC=I (background knowledge
+ text clues= inference)
Grade level: third grade and above
Objective: The student will be able to use background knowledge and text clues to infer the meaning of
unfamiliar words, themes, and predicting.
Common Core State Standard/ PASS Standard:
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from
nonliteral language.
Prior knowledge: (What students already know)
Have a base knowledge of what inferring is.

Observations/Rationale: (Before Lesson) What did you notice in your students work that let you
know this lesson was necessary? (This will be an approximation this semester.)
I had noticed that students were not using prior knowledge to make connections in reading to predict,
determine unfamiliar words, and determine the theme.

Materials Needed
Lesson from Strategies That Work, page 141-142
Mentor Text: Tight Times by Barbara Shook Hazen
Materials: 3 column chart, labeled with background information, text, and inference.
Student Groups (whole/small group/partners):
Mini Lesson Format:
Connect (AKA~ Anticipatory Set, Engagement/Pre-reading):
Sometimes it is hard to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words or the theme of a story by just
seeing the words. To aide us in figuring out the meaning, we can use background information and
combine it with context clues, to give us a better idea.

Teach (Model/Explain)
Let me show you using our book, Tight Times, that we have read before. (Go over the title,
author and begin reading the book. After the first page, stop after the little boy asks if he can have
a dog and the mom, who is rushing to get ready for work, says, not now, not again.) Now let me
show you how we can use the inferring equation. Sometimes when I am in a rush, it is hard to stop
and talk to my family. So lets activate that background knowledge and combine it with the clues
in the text that show the mom is being short with the little boy. I can now infer (from using

BI+TC=I) that this is not probably not the first time the boy has asked for a dog. Now lets move
through the rest of the book and stop and talk at some other points.

Active Engagement (AKA~ Check for Understanding: students try it out, teacher observes):
Now lets try it individually. Lets set up a chart. First lets split the paper into three sections.
Label the first one Background knowledge, the second one text clues, and the last section
inference. Each of you pick your own book and as you are reading, make inferences using the
BI+TC=I formula. When we are done, we will share amongst each other about inferences we made
in our books (walk around, listen in, answer questions)

Link (AKA~ Closing the Lesson [with accountability for the skill/process])
Now we can use this formula when we are reading. As you are reading, be thinking of
information that you already know and merge it with the text clues. When we use background
information along with the texts clues, our inference will be more reasonable. Also when we
connect what we are reading with background information, it makes it a lot easier for us to
remember the story.