SOS: It’s In The Bag

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It’s In The Bag

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SOS Big IdeaThe ability to infer allows students to make predictions. When the process is scaffolded for students, it’s easy for them to see that the method of inferring is really the process of merging background knowledge with an evidence-based deduction. In his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005),  Malcolm Gladwell reminds us that this thinking is “an ability that we can all cultivate.”

SOS Steps


Materials: a variety of related items that you might find in a bag belonging to a person or thing you are studying, a bag, chart paper, writing utensils, video segments, and images

  1. Collect a few items that relate to the instructional topic. For example, if you were studying Benjamin Franklin you might collect eyeglasses, a kite, a key, a newspaper, etc. Place these items in a bag.
  2. Tell students that you have discovered a bag that has clues to your next unit of study. Ask students to help you determine the topic by exploring the contents of the bag and make their inferences based on their schema and evidence.
  3. Pull one item out of the bag and have students share their evidence-based inferences. For example, a student may say, “This person likes to read because there is a newspaper and my dad reads the paper every night.” Continue until all items are discussed, recording what students share on chart paper. 
  4. Review the list and items and have students come to a general consensus on the topic they will be learning about, based on their inferences.
  5. When the topic is confirmed, have students discuss what they may already know about the subject and how having this schema helped them make evidence-based inferences.
  6. Using Discovery Education’s Content Collection, choose an appropriate video segment, image, or reading passage to extend students’ experience with the topic.
SOS Sum It Up
Using concrete items will engage students and assist them in learning how to make inferences using their background knowledge, or schema. This also 
reinforces the importance of citing evidence to support inferences.
SOS More Ideas
  • Have students create a “bag” for another topic or person of interest. 
  • Allow students to create virtual “bags” using Board Builder.
  • Using tools such as ChatterPix, Blabberize, or YAKiT Kids, students can create a ‘talking’ item that showcases what they have learned.

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