Inference with Dr. G - What's in your purse?

Welcome back, Dr. G!  Last month, Dr. G joined Upcycled Education for a new monthly series featuring talented guest bloggers/upcyclists/educators.

Let's see what Dr. G has for us today.....

Image from one of my favorite non-education blogs, How About Orange.
This graphic designer/blogger, Jessica, inspires me with her wit, clean patterns and fresh outlook

This is an activity I do with my Foundations of Education students. I first model this activity by pulling three random items out of my purse. I then ask my students to look over the items and to make inferences about who I am, just by looking at the items. For example, if I pull out a camera from my purse, students may be able to infer that I love capturing memories, I like being with people, I notice things and like to snap shots of them, and/or I am reliable, because others rely on me for the memory-capturing, photo-taking, etc.
Then, I have students pair up and each pull three items from their purse/wallet/book bag, etc. They then have to infer about each other (and I ask them to dig deep…not to just say, “Oh, you have a credit card out…you must like money”). After about three minutes, each pair takes turns standing up and introducing their partner by attributes of the items they shared. I tell them NOT to mention what items their partner had in front of them, but just to tell us what they LEARNED from INFERRING about their partner's items.

This activity not only helps students learn more about each other, but it helps students hone their inference skills, as well as to think more critically about the people that we will getting to know and be working with this semester.
Next month I will share with you more strategies on how to engage students DURING the lessons we prepare. Happy almost October!

Big, phat thanks, Dr. G. 

By the way, I just pulled these three items from my book bag:  a whistle, duct tape wallet, and half-eaten granola bar.  What can you infer about me from those items, clever blog reader?

PS - If you missed Dr. G's M & M's Madness post, click here.


  1. Well, hearing about your items I would say you either coach sports or an active recess duty participant, very creative, and from the half eaten bar I'd say busy! Dr. G's activity idea sounds great, not only do students use inference skills and learn about each other but you are taking into prior knowledge. Students have to use what they know about each object in order to infer.
    Lucy A.

  2. You can also use this activity as a end of the year project for students in middle school. Think about it once they are done reading all of those super interesting books they love so much, you can bring in several purses or gym bags (so the boys won't get jealous). Each purse or gym bag will represent a character from one of the books that the students read during the semester, each bag will contain things that represent the character or maybe one of the characters family members or friends. The student will look at the items maybe ranging from 3-6 things in each bag and try and guess what character it is. For example, if the students read "The Diary of Anne Frank" there would obviously be a diary, maybe a little stuffed cat to represent kitty and maybe a picture of the star of david.If your clues are a little too tough and your students need a little help you can provide your students with a list of characters.

  3. This is very creative, offering a critical thinking opportunity to students. Students can learn the importance of observance, and the use of their prior knowledge. This would be useful when introducing new topics and concepts in addition to building a thinking map.

  4. This is a pretty cool idea and reminds me of something my fourth grade teacher had my class do, which is kind of like this. We each had to make a "me bag" during the first week of school. In our bags we would put a few things in there that would tell the class about us. In my bag I put in an empty bag of cheese cubes because I LOVE cheese, a pom-pom because I was a competition cheerleader, my favorite book, "The Giving Tree", and a picture of my family because I love them more than anything. At the time I was mortified to have to tell my classmates about myself, but looking back, I think it was a great idea and it is something I plan on doing with my students one day.

    Taylor H.

  5. I just found this blog and I'm so excited! Thanks for sharing your insights to issues that really speak to the challenges of our profession in the 21st century.