Is a Prediction an Inference?

The answer is simply–not simple!  One of the hardest reading skills for students is inferring and it can all start with a prediction.  A prediction is when a student decides what they think will happen next based upon the text, the author and their own background knowledge (schema).  Students say it is a “guess” and it is but it must be based on the clues that are provided in the story or from your schema. Inferences are when a student decides what happens or why something is happening based on clues and experiences.   So, you are thinking–exactly–these are the same!  But, not exactly!

Predictions are actually a basic form of inferring and should begin happening in K-2 classrooms.  A prediction is the perfect way to model for students how to make inferences AND to be able to show them if they were right or not. An inference is not always validated and you may not find out if you were correct but predictions are normally confirmed or refuted. In addition, our inferences (guesses using clues and knowledge) often lead to drawing conclusions which further complicates the issue.


Begin teaching Predictions!  Once students see how predictions work and how they use clues and their background to make a “guess” than you can move on to working on inferences which is dealing with a much more abstract concept.  When students make a prediction have them explain their reasoning and really focus them back to evidence in the text or text structure.  After the event, model for students how to review their predictions–Why was it right? What evidence did the author give us? What hints were given?  Why was it wrong?  As the teacher Model, Model and Think Aloud for the student while you review over and OVER.   With repetitive practice, students begin to see how we use hints, events, text structure, character’s actions and thoughts, etc. to help us make predictions. These discussion starters a great way for students to begin showing their thinking.

photo (6)

Follow the Clues Lesson Plan and Graphic Organizer

I have given you this video clip before but it is great for modeling predictions The Catch.  Stop at .59 to predict what the boy will do–Have students explain why they make their prediction and what evidence supports it. After the event.  Review the evidence–Did we think from what the author provided? Or what we wanted to happen?  Stop again at 1.09 and repeat the process.

From Predictions to Inferences

When students understand how to use the text and their schema–move on to inferences. I recommend using pictures to begin.

K-2 Examples


Use Pictures of the day from any of the following resources:

When making inferences with pictures, have students fill out a graphic organizer and focusing on what they see and know and then move on towards inferences and why.
Inference basic for Pictures Graphic Organizer
After students are comfortable with pictures, I like to move to video clips. Commercials are awesome for this. Here are two of my favorites but you can do any one you like.  Here is a graphic organizer to use:  inference and evidence
Finally, when students are ready–begin with text.  Picture books are great for this.  Graphic organizer is here or any other one works. GraphicOrganizerMakingInferences
A few of my favorites:
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
Stellaluna by Cannon
Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson
For your higher level students–go for primary documents such as real life photographs, artifacts and documents.
Please see these resources from:  The national Archives.  These document analysis worksheets were created by the Education Staff at the archives. some amazing inferring opportunities are found here:

Please put a comment at the end of this blog post with a book, video or activity you use to teach predictions or inferences. Help a colleague by sharing your ideas!


1 Thought.

  1. Thank you for the great information and going one step further to provide the resources at the click of a button. I also thought it was good that teachers were encouraging these skills during students free choice reading too. A good connection between school and pleasure.

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