1.07 – Made out of Meat – Short Story Visualizing and Inferring (English Lesson)

Terry Bisson’s story, They’re Made Out of Meat, is a perfect way to put inferring into practice.  After reading the story aloud, students are asked to draw what it was about.

Having been introduced to Inferencing through the prior slide deck, students will now have an opportunity to put those skills into practice, while providing visual representations that will allow you to quickly assess where their understanding of the text is.

English Course Pack: Unit One – Literacy Skills

This assignment is part of the The Full English Course Park. This piece is part of Unit One: Literacy Skills, which focuses on creating a strong foundational understanding of literacy skills, PEE paragraph writing, and embedding quotations as textual support.


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1.07 – Made out of Meat – Short Story Visualizing and Inferring


Step One: Read the Story

This seems like an obvious step, but one look at this story will point out why it might not be as straight forward as you think. This story is written as a dialogue. It’s a back and forth conversation between two — well, that would be telling…

Explain to students how this story is laid out, and ensure that they they understand that there are different voices speaking back and forth to each other. Once they understand that piece, you should be able to move forward with the text.

Feel free to ask two students to take on the roles, or to read the text yourself with different voices.

Step Two: Drawing the Text

Once the story has been read, students are asked to draw a picture that represents what exactly is going on. This will present you with a number of different understandings.  As you walk from desk to desk, observing student work, you will discover which students have difficulty moving beyond what is literally communicated, and which ones are picking up on specific clues that get to the centre of this tale.

Optional Step: Watch the Story

Students can be challenged to share their images with each other, and then if you’d like you can watch one of the many versions of this story that has been created over the years.

This is one of the strongest versions, but it lacks the final piece at the end, which I find incredibly important to the story.

Step Three: A Written Explanation

Scaffolding the learning, students are now asked to provide two sentences, and their corresponding line numbers, that helped them reach that understanding.  They are then asked to explain what those lines made them realize.

This understanding may have changed since watching the video, which students should be be told is perfectly fine. Adapting one’s understanding based on new information is always important.

Through this process, students have used visual depiction to prepare them for written expression.

Step Four: A PEE Paragraph

Building upon the quotations students have selected, and their explanations, they are asked to create a PEE paragraph.  While a sample template has been provided, students should be encouraged to move beyond this formulaic piece if they feel comfortable. They are to include all required pieces for a strong PEE paragraph.

Step Five: Extending Beyond

Students can be challenged to combine their visuals and their paragraph on one 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. The paragraph (or just the quotations) should be integrated into the visuals in an engaging way.

This final product will be a very strong demonstration of learning in the Media category.

The Impact

By creating a media piece, students will have shown if they understand the literally stated understanding of a text, or if they can use the context clues to form a stronger understanding. This also provides an opportunity for class discussion which can and should lead students to reconsider their beliefs. By explicitly pointing out how personal belief can change when presented with new information, students will have a stronger grasp on this transferable skill.


English – Unit One: Literacy Skills


English Course Packs: Full Units

Unit One: Literacy Skills
Unit Two: Poetry
Unit Three: Literature Circles
Unit Four: Creative Writing & Choose Our Way Tales
Unit Five: Essay Writing
Unit Six: Culminating Tasks



Written by…

Michael Barltrop has been teaching since 2006, integrating comics, video games, and TTRPGs into his classroom. He has been the head of English, Literacy, and Universal Design. Feel free to reach out through Twitter @MrBarltrop!

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