Drawing Inferences: “My Own True Name” | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M2B:U1:L6

Drawing Inferences: “My Own True Name”

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of informational text. (RI.7.1)
  • I can determine the central ideas in informational text. (RI.7.2)
  • I can analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text. (RI.7.3)
  • I can effectively engage in discussions with diverse partners about seventh-grade topics, texts, and issues. (SL.7.1)

Supporting Targets

  • I can make and share accurate inferences about "My Own True Name" in discussion with my peers.
  • I can determine the central idea of "My Own True Name."
  • I can analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in "My Own True Name."

Ongoing Assessment

  • Identity anchor chart
  • Reader's Notes: "My Own True Name"


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Identity Journal Entry Task/Unpacking Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Text-Dependent Questions: "My Own True Name" (18 minutes)

     B.  Written Conversation: Inferences in "My Own True Name" (13 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Returning Mid-Unit 1 Assessment (4 minutes)

     B.  Reviewing Identity Anchor Chart/Learning Targets (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Correct the Mid-Unit 1 Assessment and complete Reader's Notes: "My Own True Name."

  • In this lesson, students begin to explore the idea of self-worth as a facet of identity. This particular idea features prominently in Pygmalion in Unit 2, so it is important for them to understand it.
  • The text "My Own True Name" is a first-person narrative from the perspective of a Mexican American college student. Consider ahead of time how seventh-grade students may or may not identify with the college experience and/or the multicultural background of the author and plan to address any misconceptions by helping them understand the world of the author.
  • As in other lessons, students analyze the chosen text via a combination of text-dependent questions and Reader's Notes. From this point on, a new requirement will appear on the Reader's Notes, asking students to use the "quote sandwich" at least once. This is to give them extended practice in the quoting skills they learned in Lessons 3 and 4.
  • This lesson introduces a new protocol, the Written Conversation, to facilitate discussion about drawing inferences from text. This is a challenging task for students of this age, and multiple opportunities to practice it are beneficial. Throughout the unit, students have been practicing scaffolded inferring through their Reader's Notes; this lesson is the launch into a more independent approach. This skill will be assessed in the end of unit assessment in Lesson 9.
  • In advance:

-   Review: Reader's Notes: "My Own True Name," Close Reading Guide: "My Own True Name," Written Conversation protocol (see Appendix).

-   Consider how you will handle some predictable challenges with the Written Conversation. Students will tend to shift into oral conversation when they pass papers. Be ready to remind them to "Keep it in writing" during the transitions. Then, even with the best instructions, some students will write two words and put their pens down. Keep stressing, "We write for the whole time." If necessary, provide additional prompts to the class or individuals to help them keep going. Finally, after you call students back to order at the end, when they are talking out loud with their partners, you might find it hard to get them back. Happily, this shows you that students are connecting to each other and the material.

  • Post: Learning targets. 


self-worth, inference; ROTC, internalize, monopolize


  • Identity journals (begun in Lesson 1; one per student)
  • "My Own True Name" (one per student)
  • Text-Dependent Questions: "My Own True Name" (one per student)
  • Close Reading Guide: "My Own True Name" (for teacher reference)
  • Reader's Notes: "My Own True Name" (one per student)
  • Reader's Notes: "My Own True Name" (answers, for teacher reference)
  • Diversity Discussion Appointments handout (from Lesson 4)
  • Identity anchor chart--student version (begun in Lesson 1; one per student)
  • Identity anchor chart (begun in Lesson 1)
  • Sample Cultural Identifiers anchor chart (from Lesson 1)



A. Identity Journal Entry Task/Unpacking Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Have students open their identity journals to the Entry Task, Lesson 5, and briefly review some of the answers they gave.
  • Direct students' attention to the Lesson 6 task:

*   "What does the term self-worth mean to you? How is it different from being "stuck up" or "conceited"?

*   "When someone has a sense of self-worth, what might it look like?"

*   "How can self-worth play a role in someone's identity?"

  • After a few minutes of writing, have students switch journals with a partner. Ask partners to read and comment verbally on each other's entries for 1 minute. Time this carefully.
  • As students are commenting, circulate and choose two entries you would like to discuss as a whole class. Ask the students' permission to share them, and then do so.
  • Refer students to the learning targets. Ask them to read the targets aloud.
  • Have students turn again to their partners and discuss:

*   "How might the topic of our journal entry and these targets be related?"

  • Cold call two or three students for their answers. Listen for them to say something like: "We might be reading a text about self-worth that we will need to analyze," or "Maybe someone in our text today interacts with the idea of self-worth."

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Text-Dependent Questions: "My Own True Name" (18 minutes)

  • Hand out "My Own True Name." Ask students to turn and talk:

*   "Predict what this article might be about, given the title and what we have been learning about identity so far."

  • Cold call two or three students for their answers.
  • Tell students they now will closely read an article called "My Own True Name" to analyze how the text deals with the idea of self-worth.
  • Note that this text shares similarities with the text "The Border"--both were written by teenage girls with a Mexican heritage. But do not give too much away.
  • Ask the students to raise their hands if they have a sense of how the title--"My Own True Name"--might relate the idea of self-worth. Wait for most of them to raise their hands and then call on one to explain. Listen for ideas such as: "It's the author's true name, so maybe it represents her true self, a self she values," or "She says it's her name--my own--not anyone else's. She has a sense of self-worth because she values having her own unique name."
  • Set the students up in pairs.
  • Distribute the Text-Dependent Questions: "My Own True Name" and the Reader's Notes: "My Own True Name." Use the Close Reading Guide: "My Own True Name" to guide students through the reading and text-dependent questions related to the excerpt.

B. Written Conversation: Inferences in "My Own True Name" (13 minutes)

  • Ask students to locate their Diversity Discussion Appointment handout and find their Red Hands partner for a Written Conversation.
  • Explain that students will be writing simultaneous notes to one another about the reading selection, swapping them every 3 minutes at the teacher's command, for a total of three exchanges, keeping quiet along the way.
  • They are to write for the whole time allotted for each note, putting down words, phrases, questions, connections, ideas, wonderings--anything related to the passage--or responding to what their partner has said, just as they would in an out-loud conversation. Spelling and grammar do not count.
  • Set the purpose:

*   "What is an important inference you can make from the parts of this article we've read so far? Remember that 'inference' means 'an idea you can draw from the hints and clues in a piece of text--the text does not give you the answer.' When you write your note, be sure to include what evidence you're using to make the inference. Remember too that we're looking for important inferences--inferences that help you understand what is going on in the story. 'I can infer that her boyfriend liked the military' might be a true inference, but it's irrelevant--it's not all that important to understanding the text."

  • Ask the class to begin, with both students in each pair writing a note (e.g., "Dear Jack, I can infer that it must have been difficult for the author to break up with her boyfriend, even though she was ready to move on, because she changed colleges just to be with him at first").
  • After 3 minutes, ask students to exchange notes.
  • Remind them:

*   "Read what your partner said, then take 2 minutes to answer just as if you were talking out loud. You can write responses, feelings, stories, make connections of your own, or ask your partner questions-anything you would do in a face-to-face conversation."

  • After the planned three-note exchange is complete, say:

*   "OK, now you can talk out loud with your partner for a couple of minutes."

  • You should notice a rising buzz in the room, showing that students have plenty to talk about.
  • Next, conduct a short whole-class discussion. This should be engaged and productive, because everyone will have fresh ideas about the topic. Ask a few pairs to share one highlight or thread of their Written Conversations as a way of starting the discussion.
  • Use the whole-class discussion to give feedback to the students about what a strong inference looks and sounds like (e.g., "Wow--I can tell you really used your evidence to back that inference up!") and how to improve weaker inferences (e.g., "Where did you draw that inference from in the text? Let's look at it again together"
  • Consider pairing students beforehand to meet their needs: proficient writers with emergent writers, quiet students with more outgoing ones, or homogeneously.
  • See the Teaching Notes for some suggestions on how to handle challenges inherent in this activity.

Closing & Assessments


A. Returning Mid-Unit 1 Assessment (4 minutes)

  • Return students' Mid-Unit 1 Assessments, with wrong answers indicated but not corrected.
  • Tell students that part of their homework is to correct their assessments. For answers they got wrong, they should circle the correct answer and also add a note explaining why it is the correct answer.

B. Reviewing Identity Anchor Chart/Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Have students turn to the Identity anchor chart--student version in their identity journals and copy down your writing while you record class thinking on the posted Identity anchor chart. Refer to the Sample Cultural Identifiers anchor chart as needed.
  • Ask students to volunteer answers to these questions:

*   "Where does self-worth fall on our SampleCultural Identifiers anchor chart?"

  • Listen for: "It's a category listed on its own."

*   "How does self-worth fit into our working definitions of identity?"

  • Listen for such answers as: "People with self-worth have a strong sense of identity" or "People who honor all the aspects of their identity have strong self-worth."


  • Correct your Mid-Unit 1 Assessment and complete Reader's Notes: "My Own True Name."

Note: Consider providing time in a future lesson for whole class review of the answers to the Mid-Unit 1 Assessments. Also consider collecting the corrections as a further guide to students' current thinking.

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