Lesson Plan

Infer the Meaning of New Words

Students will identify at least two words they do not understand from a text, recognizing the information as new and unfamiliar by accessing their background knowledge surrounding the topic about which they are reading.
Kelsey J.
Classroom teacher
Holly Hills Elementary School
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My Grades 3
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, English Language Learning

Students will identify at least two unfamiliar words from a text and infer the meaning using text clues and the sentence surrounding each word.


Students will create a tree map to show their work using an iPad or Chromebook using the Popplet application.

English Language Arts
Social Studies
Grades 2 – 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Preassess

Activity: Assessing

Preassess students’ understanding of inferring by creating a circle thinking map (or a brainstorming graphic organizer) in a whole group lesson. Ask students what they already know about inferring or what it makes them think of, have them share it with a partner, and then share out with the class. Record their answers on the circle map before beginning the lesson.


Activate students’ prior knowledge by using a thinking map they are already familiar with – a tree map. Then, connect this to the use of an app they have never used before, explaining that it is simply an easy way to make tree maps on iPads and Chromebooks.    

2 Model

Free, Paid

Model finding one unfamiliar word in the text using the ebook version of a science textbook on the Smartboard. Locate a word and think aloud about how you are not sure what it means. Then, model how to track thinking using the tree map template (or other graphic organizer to categorize information) students will be using on the Popplet app on an iPad which will be mirrored on the Smartboard. Write the unfamiliar word under the heading “word”. Then, write the sentence you found it in under the word “sentence”. Next, search the surrounding sentences for text clues and write those under the heading “text clues”. Finally, write what you believe the word means using a combination of text clues and pictures from the text under the heading “inferred meaning”. Model a second word using the same format as the first but with student input.

3 Independent Practice

Free, Paid

Teacher sends students to work independently.

Student Instructions

STUDENT INSTRUCTIONS Students will use either the physical science textbook or the ebook version (which often has the ability to read to them) to do the same activity independently. Students will use the Popplet app to track their thinking in a tree map (or another graphic organizer to categorize information). Students will export their Popplets as jpeg files and turn them into me on a digital portfolio platform called Seesaw.