Do you find it difficult to explain the difference between an inference and a conclusion? If so, you are not alone. At lunch yesterday, this was a big debate among literacy specialists and instructional coaches. Are they synonyms? Is there a slight difference? Do you use inferring to draw conclusions? Today, I’m going to explore these and hopefully provide you with clarification and a next step for instruction.
Defining the Difference
More Examples to Discuss
In this example, the facts we see are that the sky is cloudy, the ground is wet, and the umbrella is inverted. These facts indicate that it’s rainy because the ground’s wet and because she has an umbrella. We can infer that it is windy based on the fact that the man is holding on to the woman and because the umbrella is inverted.
From this same photo, you could also gather clues for a conclusion. You might wonder, “How will the weather impact the couples plans later in the day?” The couple has plans to go hiking. Well, we’d conclude that they’ll cancel their plans because it will be muddy and impossible to hike without having their shoes stuck in the mud.
In this next example, the facts we see are that the the boys are playing on a slip and slide. They are wearing bathing suits, and water is flowing over the plastic sheet. These facts indicate that it must be warm and sunny because I see a glow over the boys, and they’re covered in water. I also infer that they are having fun since they are smiling and look happy. Finally, I infer that this cools them off since the water splashes up on them.
Conclusions from this photo is that many children like to play on slip and slides in the summer because they cool you off, are fun, and work well with a group of kids. If it started to rain, we’d probably conclude that the boys would go inside. Why? Well, there might be a storm. It might also get slippery running on the grass. Another conclusion if rain moved in might be that the boys would prefer playing an indoor game. Why? Well, without the sun, it would get cooler and wouldn’t feel comfortable being wet in a bathing suit.
As you practice, you can refer to the anchor chart to the right and use it with these texts, I’ve also included organizers that you can use for recording the facts, knowledge, inferences and conclusions. You might even use the same book for each purpose just to find examples of each. This skill will take lots of practice as it’s probably the toughest for many kids to master since fourth and fifth graders are still at the concrete thinking stage.
Need a fun station activity for additional practice? This paper bag mini book is lots of fun, and it can be started as a small group lessons and sent to stations after.