Saturday, September 17, 2011

Making Inferences with Norman Rockwell

Welcome back!

This past week, Berhman's 7th grade ELA students explored inferences using the paintings of American narrative artist Norman Rockwell.  On Wednesday, I introduced this specific painting ("Surprise". Saturday Evening Post, 3/17/1956) as a jumping off point, asking students to "write down all the details you notice."

After they compiled dozens of details, I asked them to "write as many questions you might wonder about this painting." Students doted their question marks as they wondered how the teacher really felt, why the boy with the red shirt had an eraser on his head, and (my favorite question by a student) "Where are all the black students?!" 

After students spent 5-7 minutes writing questions, I asked them to predict, or speculate, about what exactly is happening in this painting. Students, excising their creativity and critical thinking skills, claimed the students must not like math, the teacher is smiling but is actually really concerned about students wasting her teaching time (I wonder where they get that from?), and that the student in the red shirt must be the class clown.  Here is a look at some more of their answers:
The strategy I indirectly introduced to them on Wednesday was the main, direct lesson on Thursday.  As you can see, the "I notice, I wonder, and I speculate" strategy facilitates students in making conclusions based on details and questions about a narrative painting (or, as I will introduce later, a piece of text).  Not only is this strategy fun and engaging to the students, but aids them in the heavily-weighted inference questions on the reading section of the iLEAP exam. 

On Thursday, performed the following lesson using the TAP rubric and sequence of activities as my guide:


Guided Practice: "Girl with Black Eye"
Independent Practice:"Moving In"
Guided Questions:
And finally, our slow but steady introduction to text:
I hope this lesson helps my fellow, creative ELA teachers who are constantly battling the lovers of standardized testing/perpetual bubble-filling with real, engaging lessons and learning.

My best,

Mr. Razem

Reference: Libby Dawson, Morehead Heights Elementary School @ Create 2011


  1. Great way to share a worthwhile and engaging
    Strategy for making infrtences. Big ups!!!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. This is a very creative idea that really gets students thinking!