Drawing Conclusions from a Reading Selection

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  • 0:01 How to Draw Conclusions
  • 1:37 Examples of Drawing…
  • 5:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kara Wilson

Kara Wilson is a 6th-12th grade English and Drama teacher. She has a B.A. in Literature and an M.Ed, both of which she earned from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

When someone drops hints, we're able to draw conclusions about what they're really trying to say. Similarly, as readers, we use clues to draw conclusions from texts. This lesson explains how to draw conclusions and how to teach this important skill.

How to Draw Conclusions

If you've ever been a bit nosey and listened in on a couple's conversation at a coffee shop, you have probably drawn a few conclusions about those people. By gathering informational clues about what they said, how they said it, and their body language, you could conclude a bit about what they're really thinking and feeling by reading between the lines. For example, let's say the man says, 'Why don't we hang out with my friends tonight instead of seeing that new Brad Pitt movie?' Then, the woman says, 'Fine.' But her annoyed tone of voice, crossed arms, and her rolling eyes are all clues that point to the fact that she is not fine with this at all. You wouldn't have to know these two people to draw the conclusion that she doesn't want to hang out with his friends and is annoyed at the thought of missing the movie.

Drawing conclusions is using information that is implied or inferred to make meaning out of what is not clearly stated. Writers give readers hints or clues that help them read between the lines, since not everything is explicitly stated or spelled out all the time. If that were the case in books and in real life, then the coffee shop conversation would've resulted in the woman saying exactly how annoyed she was rather than simply saying the word 'fine' in a suggestive manner.

In order to effectively draw conclusions, readers need to:

  • Consider what they already know from their own experiences
  • Gather all of the information that the author has given them (characters' personalities, feelings and motivations, the time period and place, conflicts, etc.)

Examples of Drawing Conclusions

For example, it is common knowledge that animals out in the wild usually run or fly away if a human walks up to them. So, when reading Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to some beginning readers, you could pause after reading that all of the animals flocked to Snow White's side as she sang to them and ask what that says about the kind of person Snow White seems to be. By asking this question, you're encouraging students to use what they know about animals' behavior and the clue about how the animals are behaving in the story to draw the conclusion that Snow White is probably an animal lover, is kind to them, and they like her and are kind to her. The deer don't try to kick her; the birds don't try to peck at her or poop on her. Instead, they all happily hang out together because of the type of person Snow White is. By using the information that students know from experience and from the text, young readers can draw this conclusion.

Let's say you read an informational or expository text about glaciers to some young readers who have already had some practice drawing conclusions and are ready to do it on their own. The article explains what glaciers are, that they are melting, and what is causing this. As you read, you pause to answer questions and have students write down the most important facts that they learn about glaciers. When you finish, you can ask students to write down a conclusion about why it is important to know that the glaciers are melting. The article did not explicitly state why it is important to learn about this, but by using their notes, students will be able to conclude that the melting glaciers point to climate change and they are impacting the animals, surrounding communities, and the environment.

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