But for some of us, it's still crunch time.

Thursday, April 2, 2015
Living in the real world, Lori

Teachers across the state of Texas are all breathing collective sighs of relief! Woohoo! STAAR is done! Our kids were awesome! Way to go!!

Unless you teach 7th grade. 

Dear 7th Grade Texas Teachers, 
I love you. Your struggle is real. You are tired. If I could come and cover your class and pay for you to go and get a mani/pedi, then I would. But I can't. So I'll give you a cool graphic organizer instead.

Love--Your Curly Friend,

Here's how you can teach students to distinguish between details, inferences, and theme--all in one lovely graphic organizer. This is a lovely and low-prep spin on one of our favorite reading activities--Nine Square. However, I like this graphic organizer because rather than just sorting, the kids are doing more creating. Plus, my favorite part is the super-cool inference sentence stem that is oh so easy! Behold...my favorite new graphic organizer.

Let's look at what's going on here. Students read a text. If you are focusing them on characterization, then they would list details about the character's actions. The next step has a rock star sentence stem. Kids pull two details and make an inference. If they find it hard to use two, ok fine. Just use one. The result can still be the same. Finally, the last step will take some modeling from you, but students step outside of the text and create a broader thematic statement. 

A good extension to this activity is to find released multiple choice questions that sound like this:

  • Which of the following details best support the idea that [inference]?
  • Judging from the character's actions in paragraph [whatever], the reader can infer that...
I tried this with real live 8th graders in the last couple of weeks, and it worked beautifully. I hope it works for you and your kids too! 


  1. Thanks, Lori! As one of those fortunate 7th grade teachers, I will take this great organizer and add it to my menu that I am constructing for the next two weeks. I reminded my kids yesterday that it's NOT OVER!! I gave them time to find new books, praised them for working hard on Monday and Tuesday, posted a HUGE two week map on my board to show where we are "re-visiting" over the next two weeks, and PROMISED them I would not drill them to death with reading passages. 7th grade teachers deserve that mani and pedi for sure, but the resources you ladies provide in this final hour are just as appreciated!