Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

Inferencing Detective

Subject Area

English Language Arts




Students will learn to make inferences based on evidence and prior knowledge about their teacher (by looking at objects), classmates (by viewing drawings or PowerPoint), and a reading passage.

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 4


    Describe how authors use literary devices and text features to convey meaning in prose, poetry, and drama.

    Unpacked Content



    • Literary devices
    • Text features
    • Prose
    • Poetry
    • Drama


    Students know:
    • Literary devices are language that carries meaning other than the literal meaning of the words or phrases.
    • Text features are items other than the main text that provide additional or clarifying information about details in a text.
    • Poetry is a genre of text that uses distinctive style and rhythm to aid in the expression of feelings, while prose is written in ordinary language.
    • A drama is a story with dialogue that can be read by different people.


    Students are able to:
    • Describe how literary devices and text features convey meaning in prose, poetry, and drama.


    Students understand that:
    • Authors use literary devices and text features to further explain and enhance specific details in prose, poetry, and drama.
    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 4


    Make an inference about the meaning of a text and support it with textual evidence.

    Unpacked Content



    • Inference
    • Textual evidence


    • Making an inference requires using observation and background knowledge to reach a logical conclusion.
    • Inferences can be drawn by using information from the text.


    • Make inferences about text meaning and use text evidence to support their thinking.


    • Making an inference requires them to use information from the text and their background knowledge to draw logical conclusions, that are supported with evidence from the text.

    Primary Learning Objectives

    Students should be able to:

    • construct an inference by looking at objects 
    • formulate an inference from a reading passage
    • justify an inference by providing text evidence to support the inference


    1. Tell students that today we are going to put on our detective thinking hats and do something called inferencing. To make a good inference we have to think like a detective. We have to look at a clue and come up with a thought based on that clue. For example, if I saw a lady reading a book, I could infer that she likes to read. First, I am going to let you infer some things about me. I am going to call some of you up here to choose an item out of this bag. You will then have to think like a detective to make a statement about me. 

    2. Allow one student at a time to come up to the front of the classroom and pick an item out of the bag. Students should then make an inference about the teacher based on the item. Record the inferences on an All About (teacher's name) chart. This chart can be on chart paper, interactive whiteboard, or projector. Continue this until all items are removed from the bag. 

    3. Debrief with students. Tell students that while making inferences they took what they saw (the object) and what they knew (prior knowledge about the objects) and developed an inference.

    4. (Option 1) Give students a piece of paper and markers or crayons. Tell students they have five minutes to Graffiti and should draw things that tell about them. Set a digital timer to assist with time management.

    (Option 2) Allow students to make a PowerPoint presentation of clip art, Web images, or WordArt that describes them. (You will want to provide suggestions of where to find these images to prevent students from accessing inappropriate material.)

    5.  After the five minutes are up (for option 1) or after the PowerPoints are complete, students should peer huddle (get into a group of 4 to 5).  Students are to work together to make inferences based on the drawings or presentation and record them on a piece of paper. Remind students that you are listening and looking for appropriate vocabulary such as I can infer ______, because the evidence suggests ________. 

    6. Meet together as a whole group and allow students to share something they inferred about another student and what evidence helped to develop that inference.

    7.  Tell students that we are now going to take what we have learned and put it to use in a reading passage. (Websites to find reading passages include Reading Sage or Read Works.) Remind students that we are still thinking like a detective. 

    8. Give students a passage, a highlighter, and a sticky note. 

    9. Tell students that good inferences have evidence to support them. Tell students to read the passage and write down an inference made from their reading on the sticky note. The inference must say, "I can infer ____ because ___" Write the stem on the board. Students must highlight text evidence in the passage to support their inferences.

    10. Students should turn in the sticky note and highlighted passage as an informal assessment.  (You can use this to guide your instruction in future lessons.)

    Assessment Strategies

    Students should turn in their sticky note and highlighted passage as an informal assessment that can be used to guide further instruction.


    Students can make two or more inferences from the passage.

    Students can read additional passages to practice inferencing.

    Students can play an online inferencing riddle game.


    Provide lower students with picture cards to make inferences from. 

    Use a below grade level reading passage to introduce inferring from a passage. (Can be found on the same sites attached as the fourth grade passages)

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    61 to 90 Minutes

    Background and Preparation


    Teacher: prepare a bag filled with items that describe yourself

    Students: It would be helpful for students to have some prior knowledge of providing evidence from a text.

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources

    Bag containing items that tell something about the teacher (Milo's Tea, football, Alabama T-shirt, etc.), passage, highlighter, sticky note

    If following option 1, you will need paper and markers or crayons.

    Technology Resources Needed

    Digital Timer to help students with time management

    (Optional) Interactive Whiteboard and Projector

    (Optional) Computers for students with PowerPoint