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How can children improve their ability to infer meaning that is not explicitly stated within the text?

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My focus for this intervention is improving children’s ability to infer meaning from a variety of texts, which may be expository or narrative pieces of reading. The generic research question that has guided this focus is ‘How can children improve their ability to infer meaning that is not explicitly stated within the text?’

The intervention involved a series of discussion groups, where children were required to respond to guided reading questions and hold their own independent learning discussions on a piece of narrative reading. The independent learning discussions used Palinscar and Brown's reciprocal reading method (1984).

The data collection methods used to examine the intervention's effectiveness were:

Qualitative data:

  • Obtaining balanced pupil voice through focus groups
  • Observations of the intervention itself
  • Semi-structured interviews with colleagues
  • My learning journal

Quantitative data

  • Data from national school tests
  • Pupil questionnaires

Using the reciprocal reading technique within the discussion groups led to better inference from the children, and higher levels of quality discussion about the text they were reading. Open questioning was far more effective in allowing the children to use their higher order inference skills, as was allowing them to control and direct the discussion. Using Socratic questioning techniques would have moved the children further into using higher levels of inference during the discussions.

The intervention has impacted the way in which I approach group reading. I am now far more a facilitator than a teacher, and I use open questioning in class far more than I did previously. The children are able to hold independent discussions as a result of using the reciprocal reading technique, and reciprocal reading has now been implemented in the other year 5 and 6 classes based on its effectiveness in my own classroom.

The main learning from this inquiry has been the value of using the teacher as facilitator of independent learning, as well as using Socratic questioning to encourage wider use of inference when analysing narrative texts.

©Caroline Daly Ionawr 2017

Additional Info

  • Project originally written in: English
  • Project Reference: 60005