Lesson plan

Making Inferences in Nonfiction Texts

When students read nonfiction texts, they will need to make inferences using text features and quotes as evidence. Support your students using short texts as practice before diving into more complex materials like textbooks.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Quotes with Introductory Phrases pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Quotes with Introductory Phrases pre-lesson.

Students will be able to make inferences based on evidence when reading nonfiction texts.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Write the word inference on the board and ask students to talk with a seat partner about what the word means.
  • Call on several students to share their definitions of the word. Then record a student-friendly definition on the board (e.g., a conclusion you come to based on clues in a text and your own reasoning). Remind students that an inference is something that is not explicitly stated, but has evidence to support it.
  • Explain that today students will be making inferences while reading nonfiction texts. Remind students that a nonfiction text is a book or article that give facts about a topic.
  • Ask students to share examples of nonfiction texts (e.g., textbooks, magazines, online articles, informational books).
(10 minutes)
  • Draw a T-chart on a piece of chart paper. Label the first column "inference" and the second column "evidence." Explain that evidence is a clue that supports or proves your inference. It can be a quote, a description of something in the text, or paraphrased information.
  • Display the nonfiction text from the worksheet Nonfiction Text Features: Wild, Wild Weather. (Note: You will not need the questions on the second page.)
  • Highlight the title and review some common nonfiction text features by pointing them out on the worksheet (e.g., pictures, captions, maps, diagrams, and subtitles).
  • Use a "think aloud" to orally model how to use the text features to make inferences. (For example, "When I look at this map, it makes me think that tornadoes don't happen on the West Coast where we live," or "This subtitle, 'Waterspouts,' makes me think that tornadoes can happen in the water.")
  • Record two inferences on the T-chart using the sentence starter "I think..." to write each inference and the starter "because..." to write the evidence. (For example, "I think tornadoes only happen in the middle of the country because on the map labeled 'Tornado Alley,' only a few states are highlighted.")
  • Explain that when you make inferences based on text features, you should describe the evidence.
  • Read the first section of the text aloud as students follow along. Model how to make an inference using clues from the text. (For example, "When the author says, 'Extreme weather is something that affects most people only a few times in their lives,' it makes me think that tornadoes are not very common.")
  • Underline the quote in the text and record the inference and evidence on the T-chart using the "I think/because" starters.
  • Emphasize that when you make an inference based on clues in the text, you should use quotes as evidence.
(10 minutes)
  • Instruct students to make their own T-chart in a notebook or on a piece of lined paper.
  • Hand out Nonfiction Text Features: Wild, Wild Weather to students and tell them to read the full article with a partner.
  • Tell students to record two inferences on their T-chart using the sentence starters "I think..." and "because..." Remind them to underline and cite quotes from the text as evidence.
  • Call on students to share their inferences and evidence.
(15 minutes)
  • Assign a short nonfiction text for students to read independently (e.g., a chapter in a textbook, a magazine article, or a printed text).
  • Tell students to look at the text features first and make two inferences before reading. Remind them to record their inferences on their T-chart using the "I think/because" sentence starters.
  • Then, tell them to make two more inferences after they have read the text. Remind them to record quotes from the text in the "evidence" column of their T-chart.
  • Circulate and offer support as needed.


  • Pre-teach challenging vocabulary that students will encounter in the worksheet Nonfiction Text Features: Wild, Wild Weather.
  • Use a short printed nonfiction text during independent work time. (See optional materials.)
  • Provide a pre-made graphic organizer for students instead of having them make their own T-chart. See suggested resources.


  • As a pre-reading activity, have students make two inferences based on text features before every science and social studies lesson.
  • To further challenge students, do not provide answer choices or a sentence frame during the assessment activity.
(10 minutes)
  • Cut the worksheet Making Inferences About Awesome Animals into sections so that each short text is separate (include the answer portion with each text).
  • Hand out one section of text with answer choices to each student.
  • Write a sentence frame on the board that reads, "I think ____, because the text says _____."
  • Instruct students to read their paragraph and answer choices. Then, on the backside of their paper, have them write a sentence about the inference and evidence they chose.
  • Tell students to find a partner who has the same text and have them compare answers.
  • Collect student responses as an exit card and check for understanding.
(5 minutes)
  • Engage the class in a short discussion about the following questions:
    • Why is it important to make inferences when we read?
    • What strategies did you use to help you find evidence in the text?
    • What was challenging about this activity?

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