Research Lesson TEKS: 5(11)(A) and 5(F19)(D)

Key Vocabulary 

annotation, inference, facts, details, implied purpose, expository, summarize, main ideas, genre

Brief Description of Research Lesson
Students will actively read as a critical component; they will infer in expository text.

The following lesson was designed by Elizabeth Brown and Danielle Cruz, educators at Huppertz Elementary in San Antonio ISD of ESC Region 20.

The Lesson Observation (video) was taught by Elizabeth Brown to 21 students in the 2017 fall semester.

inference anchor chart

Research Theme

This is a theme created by the Texas Lesson Study (TXLS) group to guide their thinking throughout the Lesson Study process. It is an overarching goal that unifies the work of the campus and the teachers.

Students will engage in meaningful real-world reflection through active reading.

Research Lesson Objectives and Goals


  • Students will use annotation with textual evidence to support authentic understanding of what they’re reading.
  • Students will make inferences about real-world scenarios and apply that knowledge when actively reading.

Students will do the following:

  • Actively read and dissect text for content mastery and reflection
  • Summarize the text including main ideas and supporting details
  • Make inferences and support thinking with textual evidence
  • Justify thinking with text evidence
  • Reflect using active reading

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) Vertical Alignment

Click below to learn about the TEKS related to the unit and Research Lesson. The highlighted student expectation(s) is the chosen focus for the Research Lesson.

Materials and Assessment

Materials Used in the Lesson

Supplemental Resources Used in the Unit

BBC News. (2017, January 17). Missing Malaysia plane MH370: What we know. Retrieved from BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26503141

Beers, G. K., & Probst, Robert. (2013). Notice and Note: Strategies for close reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann


Pre- and Post-assessment: Students were tasked with reading a selection and answering short inference questions. Students could employ any skill sets they naturally utilized to support their answers.

Background and Research


This section explains the rationale for selecting the student expectation(s) (SE) and the instructional decisions made by the Texas Lesson Study (TXLS) group.

Data provided through the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) for 2016, on student expectations (SEs) 5(11)(A) and 5(F19)(D), showed a critical deficiency in student achievement within the San Antonio Independent School district (ISD). Specifically, students at Huppertz Elementary scored 53 percent on SE 5(11)(A) on STAAR 2016 compared to the district’s percentage of 52 percent, and the state’s percent at 49 percent. Additional data was collected from grade level district assessments that supported a decline in student achievement. Students scored 49 percent or below on all tested questions involving inference skills. This critical skill has vertical implications including the student’s ability to draw conclusions and evaluate the effectiveness of the author’s purpose within an expository text. Students must be able to analyze and infer using text evidence to support their thinking. The research team understands that SE 5(11)(A) is dual-coded and should be taught alongside 5(F19)(D). This instructional partnership enhances students’ ability to utilize their metacognitive skills to make inferences with text evidence. STAAR data indicates that students scored below 55 percent with this skill. Teacher-researchers also noted that students performed under 65 percent on weekly checkpoints when tested on inference skills. Making inferences and drawing conclusions using textual evidence is a critical learning skill with vertical implications that fifth-grade students at Huppertz Elementary have not yet mastered.

This learning standard was chosen because it continues to be a difficult reading skill for students at all levels to master. The team determined that critical instructional strategies were put in place, but wondered if these skills were appropriate and effective for positive student performance. State STAAR data clearly shows that students must use inferring skills in complex ways. This requires a deeper understanding of the text in order to relate it to the reader's own experiences, world events, and other texts they may be familiar with. The team wanted to further explore and unpack the TEKS and research methods by which to efficiently teach inferring in real-world applications.

By applying key instructional strategies that aid in building context in real-world examples, utilizing annotation to support critical reading, and highlighting the importance of metacognition and reflection, students will become more proficient at inferring. Students must understand the definition of inference, apply annotation strategies in a way that is natural to their understanding, understand the structure of the text being analyzed, and use context clues to derive meaning and aid comprehension.

Students should depart from this lesson with a clearer understanding of various modalities that can be used to examine and establish a solid comprehension of what they’ve read. As a result, students will be able to reflect and respond to questions regarding how the text fits in with their purpose in reading it.

The information below is a summary of the research findings by the TXLS group.

In reading, Reading Nonfiction by Beers & Probst (2016), authors Beers and Probst state that kids must look deeper at text, so that they can think critically about text and make connections to develop real-world application (Beers & Probst, 2016, p. 11). Students may have a superficial understanding of inference and concrete strategies; therefore, Beers and Probst suggest using key instructional strategies that can be implemented. Using Beers’ and Probst’s Notice and Note Signposts, students can go deeper in the text with structure and purpose.

The questioning stance that the students can use can be the following:

  • “What surprised you?”
  • “What did the author already think you knew?”
  • “What changed, challenged, or confirmed what you already knew?”

As suggested in Notice and Note by Beers & Probst (2012), using signposts like “Contrasts and Contradictions,” “Extreme or Absolute Language,” and/or “Word Gaps” can help students narrow their thinking prior to reading. In combination, using fix-up strategies like utilizing anchor chart support can aid critical thinking (Beers and Probst, 2013, p. 42).

Students are able to critically read the text and make personal connections.

Beers and Probst also believe that student choice helps to create meaningful connections with text and purpose. If students speak, listen, and see themselves through the text, critical reading can take place (Beers and Probst, 2013, p. 60).

Through students' evaluation of their own enjoyment of a text, a deeper understanding of the author’s purpose in writing the text and applicable conclusions will result organically (Beers, 2013). Readers should be able to use their own prior knowledge about their lives, community, and world in order to decode and break down a text they may not have traditionally been able to understand.

Diving into text involves an organic approach so that students internalize what they have read. Beers and Probst state, “Meaning is created not purely and simply from the words on the page, but from the transaction with those words that takes place in the reader’s mind” (Beers & Probst, 2016, p. 35).

Students should utilize the development of their inferring skills by diving into the text more than once in order to derive meaning. Beers stated that this approach “helps students recognize key structural components. Students are taught to identify places in the text that reveal a contrast or a contradiction” (Beers & Probst, 2016, pg. 29). Beers and Probst validate that this strategy leads students to “always have something to notice” (Beers & Probst, 2016, p. 20).

The question is whether or not students will actually internalize the information. In Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor (2007) instruction must be tied to a visual scaffold.

McGregor states that metacognition involves students being able to experience or see a situation in order for them to believe it in context (McGregor, 2007, p. 17). The author explains that tools such as Venn diagrams, sketching, and visual icon development are all effective tools to aid student understanding (McGregor, 2007, p. 18). When students thought about their thinking, students were able to link thoughtful suggestions that helped them see their learning.

When students were more intentional, they became more aware of the text they prepared to read. McGregor pointed out that kids should know that all words, sentences, or paragraphs are not created equal: “Some carry more weight than others. These students could begin to separate the fact from the fluff” (McGregor, 2007, p. 52).

By providing appropriate scaffolds alongside the reading process and by utilizing authentic (real-world)/choice-driven learning opportunities, research indicates that students can elicit effective reading applications to their lives. Then, this repeated instructional practice can create an imprint that will be a catalyst for life-long reading application.


Beers, K. (2013). What Matters Most. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 57(4), 265269. doi:10.1002/jaal.245

Beers, G. K., & Probst, Robert. (2013). Notice and Note: Strategies for close reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Beers, G. K., & Probst, R.E. (2016). Reading nonfiction: Notice and note stances, signposts, and strategies. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

McGregor, Tanny. (2007). Comprehension Connections: Bridge to Strategic Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

Unit Timeline

The timeline below provides the following information about the unit:

  • Learning objectives
  • Students’ understanding and common misconceptions of the objectives
  • Estimated time to cover each learning objective.

The dates may vary based on the Scope and Sequence used by the teachers.

                                                                       Unit Timeline

Lessons and Tentative Dates Learning objective(s) Students’ Understanding and Misconceptions of Objective # of Lesson Periods



Students will use signposts/annotation as an intentional reading strategy in expository text.

Students may annotate too much but not of high quality.

Students may want to highlight and underline as that is a method with which they are familiar.

1 x 60 min.



Students will use annotation as an intentional reading strategy when making an inference about a fictional text.

Students will understand the process of annotation within the read-aloud period within the balanced literacy framework, but may not respond to inferring prompts with annotation as evidence.

4 x 60 min.


Research Lesson

Learning Activities, Teacher's Questions, and Expected Student Reactions Teacher's Support Points of Evaluation

1. Introduction (20 min.)

All students gather into 5 groups of 4 students.
Students are introduced to the TEKS on slide 2 of Inferring and Text Evidence in Expository Text slides.
Student groups are each provided a trash bag with inference artifacts for the plane crash.

Students are asked questions that require them to infer whose belongings they received and who they need to be returned to. The teacher will use an inference rubric to determine student understanding.

Who do you think this person was?
What do you think their job or hobby was?
What is your evidence for that?

Differentiation: Students can be paired by ability (low/medium students together) (medium/high students together). Students can acquire access by providing turn and talk opportunities throughout discovery.

Teacher monitors the item explorations.

Questions for investigation are posted for student access.

Are all students engaged?

Can all students provide responses that demonstrate their ability to infer about the plane’s passengers from the items provided?

Learning Activities, Teacher's Questions, and Expected Student Reactions Teacher's Support Points of Evaluation

2.Posing the Task (30 min.)

Teacher Introduces the process of annotation.

Annotation is the process of marking the text to show your thinking.  We use various Signposts to document our thinking.

Teacher begins to show Inferring and Text Evidence in Expository Text slides on the specificity of the Signposts.

Students are provided annotation cards and an article on a plane crash.
Students break into partner groups of two to review the Expository text (article about a plane crash).

Students use annotation reference cards to annotate the article together.

Teacher should model how annotation can be used to increase fluency with the reading.

Teacher should model how two inferences are made within the article text.

Teacher should provide modeling examples of how annotation helps with inferring.

Teacher should monitor students as they are working to annotate their articles.

Are students able to respond with their partner groups regarding what inferences are and how they were able to make them?

Are students able to indicate what evidence they used to make their inferences?

Learning Activities, Teacher's Questions, and Expected Student Reactions Teacher's Support

3. Anticipated Student Responses

(Note: S1 = Student 1)

S1: Plane crashes can be avoided by knowing what passengers bring along with them. (incorrect response)

S2: MM370 is a plane that crashed. (incorrect response)

S3: Investigators of plane crashes can gather lots of information about the passengers and staff based on their recorded actions and personal items. (correct response)

Facilitation of Student Responses 
(Note: T1 = Teacher 1)

T1: Why do you think this is true; what evidence helped you infer that?
T2: Can this be proven in the text?
T3: How did your annotation help you infer that information?


Learning Activities, Teacher's Questions, and Expected Student Reactions Teacher's Support Points of Evaluation

4. Comparing and Discussing (30 min.)

Students discuss why specific annotation choices were made. Students analyze what inferences can be made from the reading passage, and how it relates to the topics provided.

Question stems (written in Reader’s Notebook):

What annotations did you use? 
Why did you choose this annotation?
What was the significance of this annotation?
What does it tell us about our reading selection?

Students justify their annotations and inferences.

Students are provided sticky notes and are asked to choose their most interesting inference. Students must write a thoughtful complete sentence. Students must justify why that specific inference was important for comprehension of the article.

Then, students will proceed to the appropriate corner with the inference topic that matches their choice and tape their entry to the appropriate poster.

Students discuss in their groups what their inference was and what text evidence they used to support it. One submission from each group should be shared with the classroom.

Then, students are asked to return to their seats.

Teacher indicates four major areas that should be made during discussion: Debris from MH370, American Blaine Gibson, MH370’s Fate, and the Investigation of the Disappearance of MH370.

Teacher will remind students to refer to Reader’s Notebook for the question stems. 

Students should be provided immediate feedback on things they notice about the article. They should be able to justify why they chose specific text evidence to support their inferences.

Are student-driven inferences representative of an inference, fact, or detail?

Do students justify their inferences with text evidence?

Are students participating in groups evenly, or is one person doing all of the work?

Can students verbally explain the inference they discovered; can they defend their thinking effectively?


Learning Activities, Teacher's Questions, and Expected Student Reactions Teacher's Support Points of Evaluation

5. Summing Up Lesson (10 min.)

The students will share their annotation with a partner and discuss how they were able to make connections to themselves, other text, and the world.

The teacher will use index cards as exit tickets, questioning students about what was gained through the lesson and activities.

The teacher will have students share out their responses using the following questions:

What is an inference in reading?

How might inference skills help us be critical readers?

The teacher will review the lesson content in future lessons under the Unit Timeline.

Allowing for reflection will allow the teachers to know the degree at which the students understand the lesson. Teachers can plan for further opportunity to repeat multiple practices in inference.

Do students truly understand the importance of inference in the reading process?

Do students participate in sharing opportunities effectively?

Do students understand inference beyond the definition?


Board Plan

The board plan is a visual record of the lesson and may include the lesson objective, essential questions, anchor charts, the proposed problem or task, and/or student work used in the whole-group discussion.

TEK 5.11 and Figure 19(D)

Timed Agenda

I can infer about American Blaine Wilson because

What is inferencing chart

Lesson Evaluation Metrics

Lesson Evaluation Metrics

In addition to the “Points of Evaluation” listed above in the Research Lesson, the TXLS teachers gave the following metrics to outside observers for the Lesson Observation. The outside observers, as well as the TXLS teachers, took data on the metrics and reported the findings in a debrief meeting.

Students working in the classroom

  • How do students utilize Signposts naturally?
  • Are all of the students actively participating?
  • Were all the students able to make annotations and inferences about the text?
  • Do students illustrate understanding in inference?
  • Can students make real-world, self, and text connections?

Post-lesson Reflection and Recommendations

Post-lesson Reflection


 What were the lesson objectives and/or goals?

The objectives and goals were to actively read and dissect text for content mastery and reflection, summarize the text (main ideas and supporting details), make inferences and support thinking with textual evidence, and justify thinking with text evidence.

Did students master the stated objective(s)?

Students mastered these skills. The pre-assessment data showed that students had 65 percent mastery. The post-assessment indicated that 95 percent of the class understood the task.

What data indicates whether or not students mastered the objective(s)?

A pre-assessment and post-assessment were performed and evaluated.

Lesson Components Leading to Results:

To what does the team attribute the data results?

The correlation between the data results and student performance directly relates to the lesson focus on the strategies that navigate the students to be intentional in the way they relate to the text.

Research Theme:

Did the lesson promote students’ growth in the attributes stated in the Research Theme?

Yes, students were able to look at the text with a natural reflection of themselves and the world around them. When students were navigating the way that they approached the text in multiple ways, they were able to draw more conclusions.

What data indicates whether or not this growth occurred?

The students’ performance was indicated in both quantifiable and observable ways. Student exit tickets prior to this lesson indicated little to no response when students were faced with open-ended questions. Based on student response, over 95 percent of students understood inference and were able to make meaningful real-world reflection in this lesson. Additionally, the team could see how students were able to speak out in discussion with ease. Students need to go back into the text to validate their response proved that students wanted to be accurate and heard.

To what does the team attribute the data results?

The students owned this lesson, they were earnestly interested in the content and mentor text. Beyond their interest, students engaged with the text due to the research-based strategies that were utilized. Correct responses were derived due to the fact that students went back into their text to validate their inference. When students internalized text and owned it, they had success with it.

Additional Revisions:

What, if anything, would the team change about the lesson to improve the lesson’s effectiveness?

The team would probably change the way the students responded when they went to the anchor charts to validate their responses with each other. The students could have turned and talked with each other and validated their thinking in a gallery walk.

Recommendations and Next Steps

The team believes that other teachers utilizing this lesson should know that student choice might improve the level of student engagement. Allowing the students to self-select a text to utilize the Signposts with may aid comprehension. The article that was presented had challenging vocabulary, so pre-teaching these skills prior to the initial read might be beneficial, as well. In this lesson, most of the questioning, lesson development, and validation happened in a group setting. It would be helpful to practice this protocol through a gradual release to ensure that students could do this independently. This lesson can definitely be done multiple times throughout the school-year with different mentor texts to adhere to student practice and self-confidence. Students can use a piece of writing in a full-paper to validate their reflection from the text.

As a continuation for this lesson and next steps, students who mastered this lesson would participate in extension activities. Students will research other articles and practice the Signpost strategy independently. Those students who did not understand inference after this lesson would receive small group instruction. Students would read the same and similar passages as the teacher provided think aloud strategies. The teacher would model effective ways readers infer.