Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: Critical Thinking Company - Inference Jones

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Inference Jones: Beginning
Written by: Robert E. Owen, M.A.
Grade level: 3-4
Cost: $11.99

I bleed black and white. I love to read. I like to have a book handy at all times, and I am especially fond of literature and all things fiction.

I've been reading novels and exposing my children to all kinds of books since they were little, so I figured they would all naturally follow in my footsteps. Well, so far my first and last child have.

That leaves me with my middle child. He's always loved listening to books being read aloud, but when the time came for him to start reading chapter books on his own, it became quite a painful experience for us both! Phonetically speaking, my son could read very well, so I just couldn't understand why he didn't like to read.

In second grade, I assigned him his first comprehension guide to accompany the first four books in The Boxcar Children series. My oldest son never had a problem with comprehension guides, so why should he, right? But, I soon came to realize that my middle son wasn't just being difficult, as he sometimes could be. He really was struggling with reading lengthy passages and writing answers to questions, especially the "how" and "why" ones.

 It was challenging, but I tried to include much variety when it came to reading and literature, and I cut back on the number of novels I assigned. I learned to focus on his strengths like math and hands-on activities. I also realized he did much better when he could answer questions orally.

My middle son is now in fourth grade, and while he enjoys reading more than he did a couple of years ago, he still prefers to read books like Diary of the Wimpy Kid and Goosebumps - entertaining but not exactly literature worthy.

This brings me to Inference Jones. It's been a wonderful addition to my fourth grade son's homeschool schedule. For the past few weeks for his reading/literature subject, I have assigned one activity to be completed each day. It has added the variety he needs, and he's truly enjoyed it - no complaints at all!

So, what exactly is Inference Jones?

From the website:

"Inference Jones provides short, fun, and easy-to-use activities that improve critical reading and higher order thinking by developing the student’s ability to draw inferences from written text. Research shows inferential reasoning is a prerequisite component to superior reading comprehension."

Each activity -there are 18 in all - features a short story and about 10 questions which relate to the story. Each sentence in the story is numbered, and some of the questions require students to provide the number of the sentence that helped them arrive at their answers. This forces students to really pay attention to details and read for understanding. Here is an example from one of the activities:

Inference Jones covers various reading comprehension and literary analysis skills. A chart is provided which includes the title of each story and the skills represented.

Some of the reading comprehension skills are:
  • compare/contrast
  • cause/effect
  • read for details
  • draw conclusions
  • make inferences

Literary analysis skills include:
  • analyze character traits
  • identify theme
  • identify setting
  • sequence events

I was given a PDF file to review, but you can order the 48-page paperback for $11.99 online. Pages are reproducible and perforated for easy tearing. An answer key is provided in the back of the book.

Inference Jones can be easily adapted to fit into any homeschool schedule. Do it every day for a few weeks like we did, or assign a couple a week to spice things up. My son and I recommend it wholeheartedly!

See what other Crew members said about Inference Jones and other products from The Critical Thinking Co.™ here.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

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