The Mysteries of Harris Burdick – Inferencing Lesson

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Last year with my grade 4’s, I wanted to assess their inferencing skills. I came across Life in Fifth Grade‘s lesson on Harris Burdick and found it worked amazingly in the classroom – not only for modelling to students what inferencing should look like, but also
when having them practice and as a final assessment! This activity was used over and over again during all three stages!

Who is Harris Burdick?

My students loved the mystery behind Harris Burdick and who he was. Long story short, Harris Burdick went into a publisher’s office in Boston with pictures, each titled with a heading and a caption. Mr. Burdick claimed to have stories to go along with each of these prints and said he would bring them in the next day – Harris Burdick never returned to the office though and he was never heard from again, nor was he ever found.


Round 1 – Modelling Inferencing to the Class

First, I showed students the book that has all 14 prints compiled within it, with titles/captions and all. From here, I brought up a copy of only one picture we were going to analyze together as a class on our SmartBoard. I had students use a graphic organizer from Life in Fifth Grade‘s blog (find it here) for this lesson, and I made a larger one on the white board so they could copy what answers we came up with together.


We discussed what the terms Observe, Wonder, and Infer all meant (what do you see, what questions do you have, what connections can you make). From here, we analyzed our first print together. We focused on just what we could see and observe from the picture itself. From here, we asked questions to what we viewed in the picture. Lastly, we took what we observed and what we wondering and we started to infer and try to make connections using the two.


Round 2 – Their Turn!

In a separate lesson, I had students work with their table groups to analyze and infer the print I assigned to them. Each table got a different print and after they filled in in their charts, groups got to present their pictures to the rest of the class and share their inferences.





Round 3 – Assessment Time!

I held back one print that I wanted the whole class to infer as an assessment piece. I then used this as a mark on their report cards.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this find, mainly because it was greatly set up as something I could implement to model, get students to practice with, but then also to assess. I thoroughly enjoy looking around Life in Fifth Grade‘s blog – Leslie Ann has wonderful literacy ideas to use in the classroom and I am constantly perusing her blog for fun lessons to slip into units…as well as I guiltily follow her on Instagram (she has wonderful decor taste and also has a lifestyle blog you can check out here!)

What teaching/travel blogs are your guilty pleasure?

Any other followers out there of Life in Fifth Grade? 


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