Ladder of Inference Exercise

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Ladder of Inference Exercise

Created by Maya Toledano

Brief Description

Using the “Ladder of Inference tool” in a small group activity, students learn to understand what leads to different points of view. It makes them aware of how different people interpret the same data based on their values, assumptions, and beliefs. It is a group activity that is divided into 2 parts. It starts with presenting a personal conflict (with parents/siblings) and then is used to help review different conflicts of different characters in All My Sons. 


Learning Objectives


  • Students will be able to use inquiry statements, and acknowledgment statements, to understand better a personal conflict. 
  • Students will be able to analyze the different perspectives of conflicting characters in AMS (by using the Ladder of inference tool)


Lead-in / Preparation / Prerequisite Knowledge


Please note this is a review activity. Therefore, it is done only after teaching All My Sons has been completed.

Print out copies of the Ladder of Inference (Personal Case) worksheet: see Attachments 

Print out copies of the Ladder of Inference (AMS conflicts) worksheet: see Attachments

Vocabulary for Inquiry and Acknowledgement that includes sample questions and statements that can be used for making an Inquiry or Acknowledgment

Presentation presenting the Ladder of Inference tool

Estimated Class-Time Required

2X45 minutes


Description of Activities


Before the activity starts with the entire class, we review inquiry and acknowledgment statements and introduce the Ladder of Inference Tool.

We divide the class into groups of 3, and give them the first ladder of inference worksheet.

Part 1: Personal conflict 

  • The first student describes a conflict he/she had with someone (parents/ siblings/ friends/ teachers)
  • The second student asks inquiry questions and makes sure to use acknowledgment statements as well.
  • The third student guides the second to make sure he/she uses inquiry and acknowledgment states to complete the Ladder of inference for the presented case. 


Part 2: All My Sons characters Conflict 

  • Same groups. each group receives one of the following couples of characters:
    • Chris and Keller
    • Ann and Kate
    • Keller and Kate
    • George and Ann
    • Chriss and Ann
    • Dr. Jim and his wife
  • The group has to explain what the conflict is and to complete a ladder of inference worksheet on those characters.
  • Each group presents in front of the class their work and insights from the group work.


Key Vocabulary / Phrases


Check Attachment



While the groups present their work, the teacher will be able to assess the quality of their work. The teacher will be able to determine whether the students have understood the character's set of beliefs and values and how it influenced his/her point of view in the conflict.



As part of the activity, the students are asked about their thoughts and insights, and they have to present them as well. 


Personal Ladder

AMS Ladder

PATHWAYS Negotiation Education Vocabulary and sentence stems


Attached Files

Pathways-Vocab-Sentence-Stems-07_29_2019.xlsx - Vocabulary List.pdfDownload
AMS - Ladder of Inference .docx.pdfDownload