Earlier this year my year 10 class were focussing the short story anthology ‘Sunlight on the Grass’ from the AQA syllabus. While the students were become more adept at analysing the inference in the stories (and in articulating the perception of a possible need for a balance between narrative analysis and inferential analysis), I wanted to take another slant.

Nothing, in my opinion, grants better perspective of the choices of writing than writing yourself. Therefore, my students completed a series of activities that focussed on writing for inference. That is, consciously crafting every detail (such as phrase constructions and word choices) of a paragraph to match your intention. For example, a tender moment in a story about a couple may have the man pass a note to a woman. If the phrased word for ‘passing’ the note was, say, ‘touched the paper into her hand’, then the connotations are suitably tender. However, ‘he gave the paper’ or ‘handed over the paper’ either do not readily lend themselves to such connotations, or suggest connotations that are unwanted.

This is an attached lesson plan, along with materials and completed modelling, that you might find useful. The lesson itself was rated as outstanding because it is differentiated from the B/C students to the A* candidates. Even the observer (a member of SMT) took part in the activities! The key is to make the students think the you’ve made a mistake in the starter to garner their receptiveness.

Download the resources and all will be clear…

The lesson plan

The first task (requires some editing and some administration)

The main task and plenary

Modelling examples

The lesson itself was rated ‘outstanding’ because the starter makes the students receptive if you pretend that the lesson has ‘gone wrong.’ That is, the starter involves two slightly different worksheets that seem the same. Ideally, each half of the class will assess one particular sentence as being richer in inferential possibilities (while they all think they have the same worksheet.)

It also requires some prior creative writing recorded with a digital camera too.