Words like “explicit,” “implicit,” and “inference” sound like a foreign language to most students, yet the Common Core expects students to “read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.” Students must be able to identify both explicit and implicit information, so they can make inferences about what they read. The trick is designing fun activities to keep students engaged as they practice and apply these new skills!
Yesterday, I briefly described each term and had students record the definitions.
- Explicit – clearly stated so there is no room for confusion or questions.
- Implicit – implied or suggested, but not clearly stated.
- Inference – a conclusion made based on both information/evidence and reasoning.
To practice, I showed my students three movie trailers. I selected trailers for movies that target a teenage audience.
Before we began, I explained that movie trailers attempt to balance explicit and implicit information. They reveal enough explicit information to give you a sense of the movie’s premise, yet they rely on implicit information to capture their viewer’s imaginations. If the movie trailer has been successful, the audience will be intrigued enough about the movie to pay to see it.
Here is how I organized the lesson:
Step 1: We watched the upcoming Hunger Games: Mockingjay movie trailer. I encouraged students to note all of the explicit information presented in the trailer.
Step 2: After the trailer, I gave my students a couple of minutes to quietly fill in any additional explicit information they learned. Then I asked them to brainstorm the implicit information revealed in the trailer.
Step 3: After jotting down a list of explicit and implicit information, they discussed their information in small groups of 3 or 4. Then they made inferences about the movie based on the explicit and implicit information they gathered from the trailer. The group dynamic was great for sparking additional ideas!
Step 4: After the groups made their inferences, we reconvened as a class. I asked groups to share the explicit and implicit information they generated, then invited them to share their inferences. Because their subject matter was a movie trailer, instead of a piece of literature, they were less intimidated (less fearful of being wrong) and more eager to share their ideas.
We repeated this process with two more movie trailers (The Fault in Our Stars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Extend & Apply to Literature
After finishing our evaluations of the movie trailers, I asked students to apply these new terms to Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, which we are currently reading.
I asked students to crowdsource information from the first three chapters of the novel. I asked them to identify what they learned about the historical, social, economic, and political context of the novel. Each group collaborated for five minutes to generate a list of information.
After they finished crowdsourcing their information, I asked each group to work together to go back through their lists and decide whether each piece of information was explicitly stated or implicitly suggested. After discussing each piece of information, they labeled it either “explicit” or “implicit.” This gave them a chance to take the practice they did with the movie trailers and apply it to the text we are currently reading.
Finally, they also took that information and articulated specific inferences they were able to make about the novel based on their information.
*Note: This extension activity would also work with an informational text.