Lesson plan

Inferences in Nonfiction Texts: Cesar Chavez and Farmworker Rights

Cesar Chavez is a perfect example of a champion for social justice. Students will refine inference skills by using background knowledge and evidence from the text, while also discovering an important American civil rights activist.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Inferences and Introductory Phrases pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the Inferences and Introductory Phrases pre-lesson.

Students will be able to make inferences with evidence from a text on Cesar Chavez.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that excellent readers frequently make inferences as they read. Tell them that inferences are when a reader uses their background knowledge along with information from the text to draw a conclusion. Making an inference is also known as "reading between the lines" to go beyond what the text explicitly says.
  • Explain to them that today they will learn about Cesar Chavez, a leader for migrant farmworkers in California who fought for better working conditions and fair wages (pay). Inform them that migrant farmworkers are people who move from farm to farm to pick the crops according to the season.
(15 minutes)
  • Ask students what they know about Cesar Chavez. Record their answers on a piece of chart paper.
  • Provide some background information by sharing the following paragraph:
    • "Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American civil rights activist. He was born in Arizona in 1927, and his family moved to California to become migrant farmworkers. Cesar Chavez realized that migrant farmworkers worked long hours in poor conditions and were paid very little. He spoke up against these injustices and, along with Dolores Huerta, formed a union to protect the farmworkers. Cesar Chavez organized one of the most famous boycotts (when you stop buying a certain product in protest) in United States history, the boycott against California grapes because the grape growers were not treating the farmworkers fairly. Cesar Chavez believed firmly in nonviolent protest; he was adamant their demands could be gained by peaceful acts of social justice such as striking and marching. One way he protested was by fasting (not eating) for many days. Once, he fasted for 36 days to bring attention to his cause. Cesar Chavez was an influential activist and leader for farmworkers and also other labor unions in the country."
  • Show students the video on Cesar Chavez (see related media).
  • Ask students if they have any questions about the video. Note their questions on another piece of chart paper and leave space to answer them at the end of the lesson.
  • Model the following inference: "When I read/hear about Cesar Chavez fasting for 36 days, I infer that he was a passionate leader who cared deeply about his cause because he was willing to go to the extreme measure of putting his health in danger by fasting for so many days."
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students the following: "A lot of us are familiar with another civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr. Cesar Chavez was similar to Dr. King in many ways. We're going to make some inferences about Dr. King's activism and compare our inferences to those we made about Cesar Chavez."
  • Show the Making Inferences: Courageous Leaders Part 1 worksheet about Martin Luther King, Jr., on the document camera.
  • Read the text aloud and complete the chart on the second page. (Note: skip the vocabulary section and focus on using the text to make inferences.)
  • Underline the text as demonstrated on the answer sheet to cite the evidence in the text that leads you to your inference. Model your thinking aloud. Remind students that an inference is a conclusion you draw when you combine evidence from the text with your background knowledge.
(15 minutes)
  • Tell students that they will practice making inferences with a text on Cesar Chavez.
  • Distribute the Making Inferences: Courageous Leaders Part 2 worksheet about Cesar Chavez to each student.
  • Explain to students that they will complete the vocabulary section and the chart on the second page. Remind them to underline the texts that help them make the inferences.


  • Use a book that you have read as a whole class to show more examples of making inferences. Be sure to cite evidence from the text, and add students' background knowledge to help them understand inferences.


  • Assign students a poem from the book Gathering the Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English by Alma Flor Ada, and encourage them to make inferences about the poems (see related media). The theme of this book connects to the topic of Cesar Chavez and his cause for improved farmworker rights.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to work with a partner to make another inference from the text on Cesar Chavez separate from the ones on the second page of the worksheet.
  • Circulate the room to gauge how well students met the objective and are able to make an inference from a text.
(5 minutes)
  • Review the questions students asked at the beginning of the lesson. Go through each one, and have the students see if they can answer them. Have them consider if they can infer some of the answers from the information they learned in today's lesson.
  • Tell students to reflect on the inferences they made about Cesar Chavez's personality traits and achievements and compare them to the inferences we made together about Martin Luther King, Jr., during the Guided Practice section.
  • Show the Venn Diagram worksheet on the document camera. Invite students to fill out the diagram while comparing and contrasting the inferences on each courageous leader to show how similar and/or different they were.

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