Charles: Focusing on Literacy Skills [Inferring]

When you are not LITERALLY told something you are required to make an EDUCATED GUESS about what is happening.  This literacy skill is called INFERRING.  By using your own PRIOR KNOWLEDGE as well as information from the TEXT you can support your conclusion.


Charles: A Focus on Literacy Skills

Charles is a short story written by Shirley Jackson in 1948.  A full copy of the text can be READ HERE.  This SERIES will focus on all TEN KEY LITERACY SKILLS.  The lessons are arranged in SEQUENTIAL ORDER which builds a strong foundation before moving on to the next skill.

This series is an excellent way to BEGIN your class’s semester, ensuring everyone has a strong understanding of BASIC LITERACY SKILLS before you gradually release responsibility, asking them to put those skills into practice.

Explore other SHORT STORY LITERACY SKILLS ASSIGNMENTS for more ways to instruct your students.






When you INFER, you are reaching a conclusion based on information from the TEXT, as well as your own PRIOR KNOWLEDGE.  An inference is an “EDUCATED GUESS” which must be proved using specific details from both the text, and your own experiences.  Inferring requires you to read between the lines about something that has happened, or that will happen in the future.

What’s Really Going On Here?

At the end of the short story, Charles, the reader is left wondering who Charles is.  While Laurie’s parents have heard nothing but how difficult Charles made kindergarten for their son, the teacher reveals that she has no student named Charles.  There are three possibilities:

  1. Laurie was wrong about the student’s name
  2. The teacher was mistaken about the students in her class
  3. There is no student named Charles

Coming to a Conclusion

No matter which of the three conclusions you reach, you will need evidence to support your decision.  The GRAPHIC ORGANIZER below will help organize your thoughts.


Conclusion Supporting Details
Laurie was wrong about the student’s name ·         Laurie is a little child who could be easily confused
The teacher was mistaken about the students in her class ·         The teacher has a number of students in her class, and might have forgotten some of them
There is no student named Charles ·         Laurie claimed that when “Charles stayed after school … all the other children stayed to watch him.” (60)  It is unlikely that Laurie would be mistaken about this child’s name after a week of observations.

·         Laurie’s teacher states that Laurie “had some trouble getting used to school…[b]ut [she] think[s] he’ll be all right.” (88)


Based on the evidence above, it seems more CONVINCING that there IS NO STUDENT named Charles.  This can be expressed by writing a sentence using the details from the text as support.  Notice that the strongest details come from QUOTATIONS.

Who Is Charles?

Use the graphic organizer to collect some evidence that supports YOUR CONCLUSION about who Charles actually is.  WRITE a paragraph supporting your opinion on a separate sheet of paper.

Conclusion Supporting Details
I think Charles is…














What’s Next

Now that you understand INFERRING we are ready to look at QUESTIONING.  The three main types of questions are INFERENTIALEVALUATIVE, and LITERAL.  Your foundation of both what has literally been stated, as well as how to infer information about the text will aid you in this next section.




Charles – WhatBinderDotCom – Literacy Skills – Inferring.PDF





Charles: Literacy Skills Series












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