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Murder Mystery Inference Strategy Lesson

Background Information

Teacher Candidate: Mikayla Gerber & Samuel Wahl Date: April 10th, 2019
Cooperating Teacher: Barbara Ward Grade: 4th
School District: Pullman School District School: Pullman
University Supervisor: Lori White
Unit/Subject: Reading
Instructional Plan Title/Focus: Solving a Murder Mystery with Inferences

Section 1: Planning for Instruction and Assessment

a. Instructional Plan Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is for students to experience using
inferencing, a reading skill they have learned and used to some degree previously, practically by
making inferences about provided clues to solve a murder mystery. The main idea from this
activity will be using evidence to back up the conclusion the students have inferred to “solve the
case.” This activity will cause students to apply the inferencing skills they have learned about
previously in a way that will simulate a real use on inference. Detectives, or anyone who needs
to find the solution to a mystery of some kinds, need to take in clues, then make inferences that
help them to come to a conclusion that is thought out and well-supported by evidence. Though
may never have to solve a murder mystery, there are other mysteries that may affect them in the
future. Like a theft, or vandalism that affects them directly. Through making inferences from
clues, students will be able to make good conclusions. This lesson will show students, through
this simulation activity, the importance of making good inferences beyond just during reading.
Prior to this lesson, students met in their reading groups to share influences they had made while
reading their books: The Westing Game, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Tales of a Fourth
Grade Nothing. Emphasis was made on having details to back up any conclusions they made
through inferencing. In the lesson during the following day, students will be introduced to
devising the theme of a text. First, the concept of theme will be brought up, followed by some
practice finding the theme in two or three provided text excerpts. They will be tasked with
finding themes in their own reading, and told to use their inferences to assist them.
1. State/National Learning Standards:


Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and
when drawing inferences from the text.

Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from
it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from
the text.

Content Objectives (to be copied in Assessment Chart below) and alignment to State
Learning Standards:

1. SWBAT… Draw inferences from a text supported by multiple details they have referred
Aligned standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.1

Language Objectives:
1. SWBAT… read closely to determine a supported conclusion.
Aligned standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1

Previous Learning Experiences: Prior to this lesson, students have learned what it means to
draw inferences from a text. They have had experience in previous lessons with citing evidence
from a text to support their inferences and have learned to modify inferences as they learn more
information about a situation. In their reading groups, they have practiced making inferences
about characters and events while reading the books, The Westing Game, Where the Red Fern
Grows, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Importantly to making inferences, they have
learned about and used the practice of finding evidence to support any inferred conclusions they
make while reading. In class, the students also worked together to make inferences while reading
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg. This work was written by students on the board.

Planning for Student Learning Needs:

ELL: (4 students; Meinan Chen (Mandarin), Alya Basra (Arabic), Omar Diaz (Spanish),
Mariana Robles (Spanish))
The teacher will provide the students with directions and instructions on worksheets and
readings in their first language to ensure they can comprehend what is expected of them. This
will be done through dual-language worksheets that allow them to read their first language and
practice reading English. They will be able to complete their work in the language they are most
comfortable with. The ELL students will also be paired with students who are English proficient
when it is time for group discussion on the clues and inferences. While completing the activity,
the teacher will monitor and check in with the four students in a one-on-one setting to assist with
any misconceptions they may have.
Gifted and Talented: (2 students; Shane Hendrickson, Chloe Sandry)
The gifted students will meet with the teacher to set realistic goals according to their
learning abilities. They will not be placed in the same group for the activity, so they can act as
resources for the other students.
Learning Disabilities: (2 students; Omar Diaz, Trevor Wallace)
Accommodations will be made for the two students according to their IEP/504 plan. The
instructions will be read to them to ensure they can comprehend what is expected of them.
During the mystery activity, they will be in groups with non special needs students. If needed,
they will be allowed to use a Chromebook to supplement their reading. The students with
learning disabilities will also be given extra time if needed to complete the assignment. While the
students are completing the activity, the teacher will monitor and and check in with the students
in a one-on-one setting to assist with any misconceptions they may have.

f. Assessment Strategies (Informal or formal) (Formative or Summative)

Content/Language Objectives Assessment Strategies

Content Objective: Formative: Murder Mystery Inferences

SWBAT… Draw inferences from a worksheet. (w.1-5) During the activity,
text supported by multiple details they students will write inferences they discern by
have outlined. reading the provided clues. After each set of
clues, the students will be asked to identify a
suspect they have deduced from their
inferences. This suspect hypothesis has to be
supported by the set’s clues. If students
demonstrate the need for more assistance, the
next day will be spent reviewing inferences and
how multiple details lead to an inference.

Formative: Exit Slip. (g.1) Before the end of

the lesson, students will be given an exit slip,
where they can reflect on their personal
understanding of what inferencing is and how
to utilise it, how they feel they performed
during the activity, and how they feel they can
use the skills in the future. If I notice my
students do not feel confident making
inferences, we will do another hands on
activity the following day to allow my students
to engage with the reading strategy.

Language Objective: Formative: Murder Mystery Inferences

SWBAT… read closely to determine worksheet. (w.1-6) During the activity, the
a supported conclusion. students will be asked to identify their final
murder culprit and state evidence they have
gleaned through their inferences, having
eliminated the other suspects. This suspect can
be determined through the clue cards provided.
Upon completion of the activity, the students
will be asked to discuss their culprits in their
groups, citing evidence that they found. If I
found my students were having difficulty
determining a supported conclusion or
prediction, I would spend the following day
reviewing short sentences that make people
infer rather than moving onto main themes.

g. Student Voice:
Student-based evidence to be Description of how
K-12 students will be able collected (things produced by students will reflect on
to: students: journals, exit slips, their learning.
self-assessments, work
samples, projects, papers,
1. Explain student Exit slip. (g.1) Before the end of the
learning targets and what is lesson, students will be
required to meet them given an exit slip, where
(including why they are they can reflect on their
important to learn). personal understanding
of what inferencing is
and how to utilize it,
how they feel they
performed during the
activity, and how they
feel they can use the
skills in the future.

2. Monitor their own Class Discussion before the Before the start of the
learning progress toward the activity. activity, the class will
learning targets using the have a discussion where
tools provided (checklists, students will be asked to
rubrics, etc.). explain what they know
about inferencing and
what someone needs to
make an inference. Key
concepts that need to be
expressed include
evidence or proof. If
students have any
misconceptions, these
will be addressed before
the activity begins.
During the discussion,
students will be asked to
write their contributions
on the board for the
class to consider.

3. Explain how to access Exploring Inferences After the activity,

resources and additional Handout/Checklist (g.2) students will be given a
support when needed (and checklist/handout that
how/why those resources they can use after class
will help them). on their own. The
checklist/handout will
ask how the student feels
about the inferencing
they are doing and give
them web resources they
can use to practice or
enhance their
inferencing. At the
bottom, the students will
be asked if they found
any of the resources

Exit Slip (g.1)

Exit Slip- Inferences Murder Mystery

1. I think that a good inference needs to be…

Anticipated Responses: (Supported by evidence)

2. After completing this activity I think the suspect is _______ because…

Anticipated Responses: (Ms. Shell, Mr. Bell)

3. I feel that I can use inferencing in the future by…

Anticipated Response: (Solving a mystery, looking at clues)

Checklist/Handout (g.2)

I feel ______ about the inferences I make. BAD GOOD GREAT


Resource Was it Helpful?

Steps to Make Inferences

Inference Activities __________

Inference Riddle Game


Inferences and Drawing Conclusions


h. Grouping of Students for Instruction: Students will be split into groups

following the class introduction to the activity. Each group will be between six and nine
students. Each group will receive a new envelope of clues upon completing inferences for
the envelope they are given until all groups receive all 24 clues. Once all students have
completed the inference worksheet, the groups will be tasked with deciding upon suspects
and narrowing it down to one they agree has to be the murderer. The groups will then be
brought together as a class for the final discussion.

Section 2: Instruction and Engaging Students in Learning

Introduction: 10 minutes/70 minutes

“Good morning my little detectives! Yesterday we made an anchor chart and discussed
making inferences using specific text evidence, can anyone explain to me what an
inference is? (Q1) Exactly (students name), making inferences allows us to go beyond the
author’s words to understand what is not said in the text. (point to anchor chart) This
enables us to put together the pieces of a text and fully comprehend the information we
are reading. We can use clues found within the text and our own personal knowledge to
infer what is happening. We practiced these skills yesterday when reading Two Bad Ants
by Chris Van Allsburg and sketching what we assumed was happening within the text.
Today we are going to be practicing our inference skills by solving a murder mystery.
Before we begin, let’s discuss some questions that help us access our inner detective and
will allow us to understand how to make good inferences based upon the information we
are reading. (ask questions: Q2, Q3, Q4)”

1. Explain what an inference is? (Bloom 1)
Anticipated response: A conclusion based on evidence and reasoning
2. How do clues in a text help us make inferences? (Bloom 1)
Anticipated response: They point to a direction the text may be going.
3. Explain how a person’s schema impacts the inference they make? (Bloom 1)
Anticipated response: What I know about a topic allows me to perceive information in a
unique way.
4. Can you write on the board what is needed to make a good inference? (Bloom 6)
Anticipated response: Text details that support the claim or personal connections.
5. Can you show me on the board how to cite text evidence? (Bloom 6)
Anticipated response: Student will show how to use quotation marks or begin a sentence
with I think ___ because the text says ____.
6. Criticize the inferences made by your peers. What do you notice? (Bloom 5)
Anticipated response: Each group used similar evidence to support their claims. Some did
not think a clue pointed toward a specific direction while others did.
7. Can you analyze the importance of having specific evidence when making inferences.
(Bloom 4)
Anticipated response: Specific evidence allows one to support their idea making their
inference stronger.
8. Can you defend your final prediction while citing specific evidence? (Bloom 5)
Anticipated response: Yes, I think ____ is the murderer because the text says ________.

Learning Activities:

Learning Steps and Activities Supporting Theories/Principles

(Why are you doing what you are

1. “Now that we have finished discussing Piaget- Schema: The students will be
how to make inferences and have reviewed building upon their existing knowledge
our anchor chart from yesterday, we can on making inferences and citing text by
put our newly acquired knowledge to the applying their skills. The teacher will
test by becoming detectives. Each of you discuss the students prior knowledge in
will be separated into three detective teams addition to relating it to their current
in which you will collaboratively solve a inference reading activity. This will help
murder mystery case. You will be given students understand how to apply a
envelopes that contain clues that make you reading strategy to a text and give them
use specific evidence to infer who the more in-depth knowledge on how to
killer is. After you read a clue, you will construct inferences.
make an inference based on evidence and Paivio- Dual Coding: Students will be
record your finding on the Murder Mystery writing their inferences on a given chart
Inferences worksheet. This will help you to help them organize their ideas. This,
keep track of your ideas and ultimately and the anchor chart that was created,
show you who the killer is. To make sure will give the students a visual
you all understand what we are doing, turn companion piece on inferences and
and talk to your elbow partner about the evidence they have been working to
directions of this assignment. When you comprehend. By providing these visual
are done discussing, give me a thumbs up pieces, we hope to keep students
so I know we can begin.” thinking accounted for as it will help
While this discussion happens, I will listen them discover the importance of
to see if anyone has any misconceptions inferring with evidence.
and needs more guidance before beginning
the assignment. Accommodations: When arranging
“I have divided you up into three teams students on the carpet, I will seat ELLs
listed on the board, you may now move and those who need extra assistance by
into your groups.” students who are always clearly
5 minutes/ 70 minutes listening. This will come in handy when
the students are asked to repeat the
directions to their elbow partner to
ensure they get multiple opportunities to
understand what is expected of them. I
will also be listening to hear the students
explain the directions to see if they need
more clarification. The students will be
in groups that best support their needs
and allow the students to gain assistance
from their peers.

2. “Please use the provided worksheet to Constructivism (Vygotsky, Piaget,

record your inferences based on the given Wertsch, John-Steiner, Mahn)- Social
clues. Be sure to cite specific evidence that interactions are important in the
supports your inferences. Can someone knowledge construction process: The
come up to the board and remind us how to students will be able to complete a hands
cite evidence? If you would like to on assignment that forces them to practice
highlight the evidence you are focusing on, their inference making skills. By
you may do so. After you read each clue providing them with this opportunity, the
and make inferences, you will record your students engage with the strategy and
current killer prediction. Once your team is apply it rather than absorb information.
ready to move onto the next set of clues,
send up one representative to have their Constructivism (Vygotsky, Piaget,
work checked off and grab the next Wertsch, John-Steiner, Mahn)-
envelope of clues.” Learners construct their own
Question: Q5 knowledge: The majority of this lesson
Supply: w.1, w.4, and w.5 will allow students to work in small
25/70 minutes groups to build on their existing
knowledge of making inferences when
using specific text evidence. Through
enabling students to collaborate on
learning a new strategy, they can make
gain a deeper understanding on how to
apply their newly learned skill.

Accommodations: The worksheets and

clues will be given to the ELLs in the
form of dual-language. This will allow
the students to practice their reading skills
in both their native language and English.
The worksheets will be given to students
on chromebooks if needed according to
their IEP/504. I will be walking around
assisting any students and checking in on
my 8 specific students.

3. “As you finish making inferences on the Vygotsky- Importance of Language:

5th set of clues, discuss in your groups The students will be given multiple
who your final killer prediction will be. opportunities to collaborate and discuss
Don’t forget to use specific evidence to through a problem or concept they are
support your claim. You will record this working on. They will be instructed to
information under the “Mystery solved!! work together to find one answer
Actual crime and motive” portion of your through practicing their inference and
worksheet. Once each group is finished, citation skills
come sit on the carpet and prepare to share
your results with the class.” Accommodations: When filling out the
5/70 minutes worksheet, the students will be able to
use their home language or type their
answers. I will check in with my 8
students to see if they understand what
they are doing and help clear up any

4. “On the whiteboard there are designated Vygotsky- Importance of Knowledge:

slots for each group to write their final The students will have the chance to
prediction. Please send one representative share their findings in a whole group
to fill in your findings.” setting, Through allowing the students to
Allow time for students to write on the share their inference and supporting
board. evidence, they will gain a better
“Good job working together to find one understanding of the reading strategy.
final answer as a group. When looking at This is important to their overall
each teams final prediction, it may be learning as it offers many different
difficult to understand how they came to viewpoints, hopefully, relating to each
their conclusion. With that being said, can student’s own personal understanding of
anyone analyze the importance of having the lesson.
specific evidence when making inferences?
(wait for anticipated response) Great, Paivio- Dual Coding: Once the students
(students name). Specific evidence does are finished sharing their team’s
allow us to gain a deeper understanding of personal findings, they will be given the
what led us to our inferences. Now that handout with the correct answer.
you understand the importance of text Through providing a worksheet with the
evidence when making inferences, can correct findings, the students will have a
each group defend their final prediction useful visual that represents the oral
while citing evidence? Send up one instruction of connecting ones
representative to write your findings under inferences to text evidence.
your teams final prediction.” Give time for
students to share their evidence that Accommodations: The worksheet given
support their prediction. Then read and during the portion of the lesson will also
be dual-language if needed. Those
pass out the “Crime, Motive, and Method” working on chromebooks will be given
answer sheet. the worksheet via the internet. As there
“Wow, you guys sure do sound very is more discussion based instruction
similar to the detectives! Now, criticize the during this portion of the lesson, I will
inferences made by your peers. What did talk clear and use my hands to describe
you notice? (anticipated responses)” what I am saying.
Questions: Q6, Q7, Q8
Supply: w.6

Closure: 10/60 minutes

“Remember that without making inferences about the text, you would have not been able
to put the pieces together to find the killer of the story. Let’s review that an inference
draws on evidence to help the reader go beyond the author’s words to understand what is
not said in the text. We use specific evidence when making inferences to show how our
thinking occurred. When reading your personal book during silent reading, be sure to
identify moments you go beyond the author’s words and infer. Before we go to recess,
we would like you to complete these exit slips that allow you to reflect on the lesson
today and your own personal progress. Good job today, detectives!”

Independent Practice: Students can extend their experiences within making inferences
by keeping an inference log in their reading journal. This will allow them to record each
time they recognize themselves making inferences when completing silent reading. Each
week for homework, the students will be instructed to read at home and keep notes about
the inferences they make. To include the student’s parents in their process of inferencing,
the students can read their silent reading book aloud to their parents and ask them if they
notice a time they infer. The students can compare and contrast their parents inferences to
their own and discuss how one’s schema affects the inferences we make.

Instructional Materials, Resources, and Technology:

-Murder Mystery Inferences Worksheet (w.4-5)
-”Making Inferences” Anchor Chart
-Pencils or pens
-Murder Mystery Clue Cards in envelopes (w.1-3)
-Exit Slip
-Inference Anchor Chart

Anchor Chart (c.1)



This lesson plan was created by Mikayla Gerber and Samuel Wahl. To help our students
practice the reading strategy, making inferences, we provided them with the activity titled
“Murder Mystery Inferences: The Case of Mr. Crane” found on
1. Cole, Jessica. “Murder Mystery Inferences: The Case of Mr. Crane.”