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11 — What don’t they tell us?

This is the eleventh sequence in a learning unit familiarising students with how to create sentences and questions by investigating their local geographical landscapes and those further afield. During this sequence students will revisit their retelling of Mirror by Jeannie Baker that was completed in Sequence 10. They will use the keywords that they identified from the text to assist in developing their knowledge of what inferring is and the processes involved with it.

Village with a grid of stone-walled houses nestled on a hillside in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco

Above: Photo of a village in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco by
Webrunner, CC-BY-1.0

You will need to have completed Sequence 10 prior to this sequence. You will also need a copy of Mirror and have copies of the Inferring worksheet for the students, as well as an enlarged copy for you to use. If you are unfamiliar with inferring, refer to Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies by Sheena Cameron for additional information. Have small bags labelled ‘Morocco’ ready to hand out to each student at the end of this sequence.

Begin the sequence by sharing any communication from your ePals. Look at the display of questions that have been asked and see if any of them have been answered. If your school has been asked any questions, talk about what your responses will be. Allocate students to groups to respond to the questions.  ACELY1656,   ACHASSK033

Activity 1: Making inferences

Revisit the keywords that were developed in Sequence 10 and recorded on sticky notes. Distribute the notes and then ask students to stand up with their notes and co-operatively retell the story using the keywords. Choose two or three of the sticky notes about which you feel the students have some prior knowledge. Place these on the Inferring worksheet under the heading ‘Information from text’.  ACELY1656

Explain that authors do not always give their readers all the information. They like to make the readers do some thinking while they read and come up with answers themselves. This is called inferring and they are going to practise this today.

First select one of the sticky notes and place it in the ‘Information from text’ column. Ask the students what background knowledge they have about it. Record their responses in the appropriate column. For example, one of the sticky notes may have the keywords ‘no roads’. Place this sticky note in the ‘Information from text’ column. Now ask them what they already know about roads. The students may answer with something like, ‘We drive cars on them’ or ‘They are used to get around’. Now ask them why they infer that there are not many roads in this part of Morocco and record their responses in the ‘I infer ...’ column. If the students are unable to provide some background knowledge, model this for them and ask prompting questions. Model how to write the ‘I infer ...’ statement. Use a think-aloud strategy to demonstrate how you formed your inference.

Continue modelling how to fill in the chart, supporting students to add their background information and inferences. Students who demonstrate that they understand the process may be given their own sheets to continue working with a partner. Other students will remain in the guided practice group.  ACELY1656,  ACELY1660

Activity 2: Making more inferences

Display all the sticky notes from Sequence 10. Ask the students to choose one about which they could create an inference. Students requiring additional support may select one from the previous activity. They may also work with a partner or in a teacher-guided group. Give each student a copy of the Inferring worksheet and allow them 10 minutes to complete their thinking.  ACELY1660


Gather the students together and share some of their inferences. Display them in the classroom so they can refer back to them. Also talk to the students about the items that they collected during their landscape walk in Sequence 4. Explain that they are going to be using these items (and others that will be collected prior to Sequence 12) to construct two dioramas that show the differences in the two environments in Mirror. Give the students time to revisit the items they collected and ask them to think about what else they might need.

At the end of the session hand out another small bag, labelled ‘Morocco’, to each student. They are to take these home so that they can begin to collect any other items they think they will require for their dioramas prior to the next sequence. It might be a good idea to talk about the kinds of things they might collect from home and perhaps work together to create a list of possible items on the board.  ACELY1656