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Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of November 5th

posted Nov 5, 2017, 6:12 PM by Courtney Richardson   [ updated Nov 6, 2017, 9:49 AM ]
Teach Students to Make a “Spock” Inference

Spock, the First Officer of the Enterprise, is a Vulcan. He has been taught his whole life to be very technical, never lie and always follow regulations. Making an inference is not in his DNA. In the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), the Enterprise crew is trying to save the earth. In order to complete this task, Spock must make calculations for the Enterprise to boomerang around the sun to go back in time. 
When Captain Kirk asks Spock for the calculations to boomerang around the sun, Spock tells Captain Kirk that he cannot solve this problem because the answer is not obvious or “right there.” Captain Kirk looks at Spock’s quizzical face as Spock sits at his science station and tells Spock to make his best guess. Spock has never made an inference or guess before but he knows in order to save the Earth he must infer. He must use information from his science station computer and his background knowledge in order to find a solution. The current Earth can only be saved if Spock believes in the inference he makes and then follows through. 
I play this scene from the movie to teach my students what an inference is. As readers they must use the information in the text and their background knowledge to make their best guess. My Spock bobble head sits in the front of our room and is always a part of our language arts block. It reminds the students that reading has challenges but nothing that cannot be overcome if they always go into their strategy toolbox and use the right tool for the task. Spock is our inference tool.

Written by: Corrie Wright, 5th grade teacher, ​Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. Contact: /