Part 1: Lesson Description
Evidence and Inference: You live there?
The House on Mango Street
Developed for students in advanced ESL/ELL classes, as well as for native speakers of English with low reading skills, this group lesson focuses on the formulation of inferences, and the relevant explicit details that support each inference. The initial presentation highlights the skill of making inferences in a real-world context, then transitions to the literary context. Students read selected chapters of the novel, The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros, a core text in many junior high and high school curricula across the United States. The students read out loud. Then, in groups they formulate inferences based on what they have read. Using sentence strips, they summarize the inference as well as cite the textual details which support each inference.
Learner Audience / Primary Users
Teacher and Student
For teachers who seek to build on the formulation of inferences as an important life skill, as well as an essential GED preparation skill, in a classroom with advanced level adult ESL/ELL students and/or a non-ESL/non-ELL low English reading level cohort. For adult students willing to reflect on and share their life experiences with their classmates while learning to apply their real-life inferring skills to a text-based context.
- Curriculum / Instruction
College & Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) Alignment
- Level: Adult Education
- Grade Level: CCRS Grade Level C
- Subject: English Language Arts/Literacy
- Strand: Reading;
- Sub-strand: Reading Literature
- Standard Description: CCRS: Reading Standards, Anchor 1: 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. Level C: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. (RI/RL.4.1) Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. (RI/RL.5.1)
- Instructional Material
- Lesson Plans
The purpose of this lesson is for learners to be able to:
- Hone analytical skills
- Apply these skills to a literary text
- Practice reading
while reviewing a few select chapters from the novel, The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros.
- Designers for Learning
- Adult Education
- Textual Evidence
- GED Preparation
- The House on Mango Street
Time Required for Lesson
If students are in an ESL/ELL program, they should be in the advanced level.
If students are in an academic program, they should be able to read English at a 7th grade level.
Students should feel comfortable reading out loud in class.
Required Resources and Pre-Lesson Preparation
This is a group lesson and includes students reading out loud in class. It is important that students have practice reading in front of their peers, and feel comfortable doing so, prior to initiating this lesson. This should NOT be the first time students are reading out loud.
Class set of The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Color-coded sentence strips with the following titles: Inference and Evidence, each on a different colored strip
Print the following 3 sentences on the same colored strip as the one used to write the word, Inference
Esperanza lives in an unsafe, rundown neighborhood.
Esperanza lives in an unsafe, rundown house.
Esperanza feels ashamed.
Print the following 5 sentences on the same colored strip as the one used to write the word, Evidence
Boarded up Laundromat
Robbery 2 days ago
Wooden bars on windows to prevent falls
The way she said it made me feel like nothing.
Hang the Inference and Evidence titles on the board.
Hang the other 8 colored strips in random order on a side board.
Many extra blank sentence strips for the students to use
Lesson Author & License
- Lesson Author: Patricia Petherbridge-Hernandez
- License: Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license
Part 2: Lesson
By the end of this lesson, the learner should be able to:
- Prepare at least 1 sentence strip to identify an explicit detail in one chapter of The House on Mango Street.
- Prepare at least 1 sentence strip to identify an inference in the same chapter of The House on Mango Street.
- Correlate the sentence strip with the explicit detail to the sentence strip with the inference that the explicit detail supports.
Key topics covered in this lesson include:
- Inferences people make about you
- Inferences you make about others
- How people judge your neighborhood
- You feel safe, but outsiders feel scared
- How it feels to have people say hurtful things
- How it feels to not be understood
- How it feels to not belong
Students enrolled in ABE classes include advanced level ESL/ELL students as well as native speakers of English with low reading levels. This lesson builds basic literacy skills for both of these cohorts. The ultimate goal of ABE instruction is to prepare students for the passage of the GED exam.
Relevance to Practice
This lesson focuses on the formulation of inferences and the relevant explicit details which support each inference. The progressive honing of this skill is described in Anchor 1 of the Reading Strand of the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS). Anchor 1 is fundamental to the English Language Arts/Literacy curriculum of all adult education institutions. Similarly, Anchor 1 is fundamental to the passage of the GED exam.
Key Terms and Concepts
Evidence - the explicit textual details which support an inference
Inference - the formulation of a conclusion predicated on specific observations or textual details
Instructional Strategies and Activities
See Pre-lesson Preparation under Required Resources
Time: 4 minutes
Teacher role-plays a real-world conversation described in chapter 1, paragraph 6, of The House on Mango Street (HOMS) in two very different ways. In the first version, the teacher leads the students to infer that the sight of the house under discussion in the conversation creates a reaction of disdain and horror. In the second version, the teacher leads the students to infer that the sight of the house is met with congratulatory approval.
Scene: 2 people are conversing while walking down the street
One asks the other, “Where do you live?”
“There” (pointing up)
The other person responds, “You live there?”
Teacher asks for student comments. What is the difference between the 2 enactments? The words were the same. What was different? What evidence did they base their inferences upon?
Time: 4 minutes
Teacher, addressing the students: When we read books, we also make inferences. However, we rely on other types of evidence to formulate our inferences. In this case, written evidence.
Teacher suggests that the class take a look at the original scene in HOMS, at the end of the first chapter.
Teacher passes out the class set of HOMS and has everyone turn to Chapter 1, paragraph 6.
Assign 4 different students to read: one student for paragraph 6, two students to read the conversation, and a fourth student to read the follow-up paragraph after the conversation.
Following the reading of the first paragraph, teacher asks if the neighborhood sounds like a nice neighborhood, or one that seems to be more rundown. The author is already setting the scene and giving the reader an idea of how the conversation will go.
Continue with the reading of the conversation and the follow-up paragraph, with the description of the paint peeling and wooden bars on the windows. Ask the students what kind of inference is drawn from this description. And what about Esperanza’s final words?: “The way she said it made me feel like nothing.”
Ask the students if they have noticed how some of the most hurtful things can be said by the nicest people? In this case, a nun, a good person, but her words hurt. However, it’s not really the words that hurt, but the inference that hurts. Has this ever happened to any of the students before? Encourage discussion and comments.
Presentation / Modeling / Demonstration
Time: 5 minutes
Teacher points to the 2 sentence strips posted on the board: Inference and Evidence
Draw the students’ attention to the colored sentence strips displayed on the side board.
Which ones are inferences and which ones are evidence?
Select student to read the strips out loud for the class.
Select other students to take the strips and place them under the correct category
Do the students all agree about the placement of the sentence strips?
Below, is the alignment of the colored sentence strips into their respective inference/evidence categories.
Time: 10 minutes
Divide the students into 2 groups. To one group, assign chapter 12, “Those Who Don’t.” To the second group, assign chapter 30, “Four Skinny Trees.”
Call on the chapter 12 group first.
Ask 3 students in this group to each read a paragraph of the chapter out loud to the class.
Ask about the topic. What does Esperanza say about her neighborhood? Good things? Bad things?
What are the inferences? What is the evidence?
Tell the students you will be passing out colored strips to everyone, so that they can write down their own inferences and their own evidence. However, this will be after the second group finishes their reading.
Turn to the second group. Ask 4 students to each read a paragraph of the chapter out loud to the class.
Ask about the topic. What does Esperanza say about her feelings? Good things? Bad things?
What are the inferences? What is the evidence?
Hand out the strips to both groups. The students may work alone, or with a partner. Instruct them to write their inferences and the supporting evidence on the colored strips., focusing in on their particular group’s chapter.
Indicate a time limit of 5 minutes to prepare the strips.
Teacher should circulate, answer any questions, and make sure students are on task.
Time: 5 minutes
Call the students back together. They should be ready to share their sentence strips.
Begin with one group, ask the students to share their strips, placing them on the board, under the appropriate category.
Turn to the second group, and have them proceed similarly.
Some strips will be duplicates.
Ask the students if they agree with each other’s strips and placement. Have them explain why.
Time: 2 minutes
We began our lesson today, focusing in on a conversation between 2 people walking down the street.
Then, we looked more closely at written text, and the inferences it might contain.
As we go home today, we return to the real-world. Listen for more conversational examples of inferences and the explicit details which support each inference. Take note of these examples and be prepared to share them with the class tomorrow.
Part 3: Supplementary Resources & References
This course content is offered by Designers for Learning under a CC Attribution license.
Content in this course can be considered under this license unless otherwise noted. Page
(Design Guide effective March 2, 2016)