Observe, question, infer

The Observe, Question, Infer (OQI) Chart is a strategy used to help students organize and articulate what they know (observation), what they wonder (question), and what they infer (inference) based on a text or image.

This strategy has many potential applications for both individual and group work. At an individual level, it could be used to help students analyze a complicated text and develop inferences based on clues in the text (i.e. observations and unanswered questions). At a group level, it could be used to consolidate class ideas and generate a summary of observations, questions and inferences.

I used this strategy during practicum after reading aloud The Wretched Stone, a book by Chris Van Allsburg. A large chart paper with columns “Observe,” “Question,” and “Infer” was prepared in advance. Students were given three sticky notes each. After hearing the story, they wrote an observation, a question and an inference on separate sticky notes. They then placed their sticky notes under the appropriate column on the chart. This produced a quick class set of observations, questions and inferences based on the text. It made it much easier for me to see both common and unique ideas, allowing me to create a summary OQI chart based on student-generated ideas. It also highlighted potential misunderstandings of the difference between an observation, question and inference (i.e. students incorrectly sorting their ideas into the appropriate columns). While the mystery of the story remained, we were able to develop some high-level inferences using this OQI chart!

Runde, Jennifer. (2015). “Reading Between the Lines with Chris Van Allsburg: A Junior/Intermediate Language Arts Unit.”

Edugains. (n.d.). Encouraging thinking through questions. Practice and research connections: adolescent literacy.

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