Making inferences is always such a challenging skill for my fifth graders. They have to use what they know and clues from the text to read between the lines. We do lots of practice and mini lessons in class to practice this difficult skill, but the most fun and engaging one we've done so far this year, is an inferencing MURDER MYSTERY, thanks to my wonderful coworker, Debbie!
The students are given a news story that explains that our beloved science teacher has been killed, and there are multiple suspects on the case. The suspects are all the fifth grade teachers. (Obviously, we got persmission from the teachers to use them in this activity!) The students get a "rap" sheet that has a description of all the suspects and a copy of the news story.
Around the room, we set up the seven different clues. (all sectioned off by police tape- do not cross) In order to get a clue, the students have to solve an inferenceing task correctly. These tasks are small passages with inferential questions. They have to identify the text evidence that helped them find the answers, so it's not that easy! :)
Once they have gotten a clue, they have to take notes on it and write down any helpful information. This is repeated until they recieve all seven clues. Once they have gathered all the clues, they have to put their heads together and INFER based on the clues and the "rap" sheets, who they believe "killed" their science teacher. On their final answer page, they have to write the killer, the motive, and a detailed description of the day that led upto the "murder."
The students absolutely LOVED this activity! They were engaged, learning, and having fun all at the same time. We, the teachers, were also having fun becuase we dressed for the part wearing a Sherlock Holmes hat and spoke in our best British accents. Throughout the activity, the students had to refer to us as Sherlock and Watson!