Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Inferential Questioning

Did you know that we, as teachers ask up to two questions every minute? We can ask up to 400 questions in a day and an average of 70,000 questions in a school a year. That works out at about two or three million over the course of our career. But how many get answered?

In our busy classroom environments, we as teachers have the habit of waiting less than a second for response and answering many our own questions.

Did you know that by following the three second rule for questioning, 60% more children are likely to try and attempt an answer or offer by putting their hand up? In fact, a three second wait time is recommended for lower order questions and up to ten seconds wait time is recommended for higher order questions!

Once we adapt our wait time, it is then best to consider the types of questions we ask. Questioning is an integral part of our teaching, thus our questioning should be carefully planned and considered to maximise skill development; regardless of age and class level. 
One  skill that can be really enhanced from the types of questions we ask the children, is inferencing.

Types of Questions:
Level 1 - Literal
Level 2 - *Inferential*
Level 3 - Evaluative

What exactly is inferencing?

Basically, an inference is an idea or conclusion that's drawn from evidence and reasoning. Quite simply, an inference is an educated guess. In life we learn about some things by experiencing them first-hand, but we gain other knowledge by inference. So ultimately it is a really important skill to acquire and practice!

Inferential questions ask readers to read between the lines.
Image result for read between the lines gif

How to practice inferencing skills?

1. Shared Reading

During reading is an ideal time to practice inferencing skills as questions are occurring naturally and part of the process. Shared reading is a wonderful time to incorporate careful, predetermined questions, in a seemingly natural manner. *Inferential questions are ones where the text does not actually tell us the answer, but we can work out the answers by examining hints and clues in the text through our own knowledge and experience.*

Why do you think ...
What is the problem...
Why did the character...
What can you conclude about...
What kind of person is...
Why does the author use the word...

2. Examining Images

Choose an image or a photograph to support inferential questioning. This is a really effective way of creating context for inferential questions. Use the image to get the children carrying out deeper thought, guesswork and to tap into their imagination.

What can you tell from the picture that's not shown?
I wonder what's happening behind the camera?
Does the cat like his bandana?
Do you think this might be a friendly cat?
Why is the cat wearing a bandana?

How can I make inferential questioning easy for myself?

I always say it, visual cues and prompts are just as important for teachers as they are for your students. We can't be expected to remember everything off the top of our heads. I'm a fan of having different prompts and lists hanging in different areas of the room to remind me to ask certain questions and use particular vocabulary. Enter the packet of post-its! Use post -its to record cues or questions you wish to ask during a reading or visual discussion.

Image result for post its gif

Download my 'INFERENTIAL QUESTIONS PROMPT PACK FOR TEACHERS' to support your questioning with all class groups.

Happy questioning!

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