Meaning of the text by inferring, questioning and summarising
This developmental sequence of activities assists students to work out the meaning of the text by inferring, questioning and summarising. The activities are presented in the following developmental order:
Inferring meaning from the ideas presented in the textThis activity can be repeated to allow students to practise inferring meaning from the ideas presented in the text. Identifying the main idea in the textAsk the student to identify the main idea presented in the text so far and infer how that idea may be expanded in the remainder of the text. For example, the moral or theme of the text as presented by the author. Inferring ideas about the text over timeAsk the student questions to support them to infer ideas in the text over time. For example, when discussing a character in the text you may prompt the student with questions such as:
What do you think may have happened to Lawrence when he was younger, to explain his behaviour?
Why do you think he was not close to his brother?
Where do you think he spent a lot of his time when he was younger?
When do you think he first came to regret the rift between him and his brother?
How do you think his family had responded to his behaviour before this happened?
Inferring unstated cause and effectAsk the student questions to support them to infer cause and effect not stated directly in the text. For example:
Why do you think this happened?
What do you think the author has left unsaid and why?
How do you think the author expects the reader to respond to what you have read so far and why?
Inferring the nature of possible changesAsk the student to infer the nature of possible changes with the text by changing ideas in the text and asking, What would happen if...? For example:
If Lawrence decides not to try to reconcile with his brother, how would the storyline evolve?
How might the author’s portrayal of Lawrence’s character change?
Identifying the questions that the text answersThis activity can be repeated to allow students to practise identifying questions that parts of the text answer.
Read a sentence from the text to the student. Model to the student how to identify a question that the sentence answers. For example:
Sentence – Photosynthesis is a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight.
Question answered – What is photosynthesis?
Ask the student to read a sentence from the text and identify a question that the sentence answers.
Ask the student to repeat this process using two or more sentences and then one or more paragraphs from the text.
Summarising part of the text after reading itThis activity can be repeated to allow students to practise summarising part of the text after reading it.
Ask the student to identify the purpose of the text they have read. For example, the purpose may be to persuade you of a particular point of view, to report an investigation that has been carried out, or to describe and event).
Ask the student to scan a paragraph in the text and identify the main ideas and supporting details by:
reading each paragraph carefully
highlighting the topic sentence or paragraph
writing the topic sentence or heading for each paragraph
identifying key words and phrases in the paragraph.
Identify unfamiliar words within the paragraph and ask the student to predict their meaning within the context of the paragraph. Have the student look up the meaning of the unfamiliar word in the dictionary to confirm their predictions.
Ask the student to say in one sentence what a paragraph is about or what they know after having read it.
To summarise increasing amounts of text, repeat the procedure above, asking students to also identify the layout of the text. For example, the text might:
be divided into chapters or sections, with headings and sub-headings
be divided into paragraphs
include accompanying illustrations or diagrams - consider if they show the overall concept of the text and what additional and/or supporting details they provide.