Students were having a great deal of difficulty with inferences in reading. Why not have them create their own stories (with an agenda) so they make inferences? Next trade stories, read, and infer about the story when you can ask the author about the real meaning. Middle school age students enjoy this partly because the point is to try to stump the reader by making complex inferences. The challenge of finding an answer is heightened because it has become a game or test of wills.
In this teacher made example, students from Art created characters in varying poses. The characters were then used in language arts classes to make short stories with inferred meaning imbedded. Finally, whole class stories were exchanged with other language arts classes in the same grade. The stories are examined and critiqued to find the inferences made.