Then, that ripple creates a new, larger ripple. Strategy Steps. Here are a few other examples: Compare synthesizing to Russian nesting dolls. Help students understand that just like the growing ripples, our thinking grows as we read. 5 Fantastic Strategies to Encourage Synthesizing . She wanted to consolidate what they had learned in the lesson and assess where she needed to go in the future. A synthesis can INCLUDE parts of a summary, or a retelling from the text, but it goes far beyond that summary or retelling. You begin with the cake mix (AKA: the text), and you add in ingredients like eggs, oil, and water (AKA: thoughts, opinions, experiences, previous knowledge…etc) to form something new: a cake (AKA: a synthesis), As you teach students to practice synthesizing a text, providing simple reminders will help keep this reading strategy top of mind. If possible, draw an illustration of this on chart paper, like shown on right. We take what we learn from various sources and put it together in original ways. Create a T-chart as shown below to helps students identify the differences between a summary and a synthesis. In fact, the prefix “syn” means together. S ynthesizing a text is the process of pulling together background knowledge Each group or child contributes what is important to add to the summary from their part of the text. Each child’s individual square synthesizes what he or she found meaningful; together the quilt captures the overall spirit of the Underground Railroad. In all three types, the result of synthesizing is an increase in knowledge for the reader. Synthesizing is one of the most challenging reading strategies for students to master, simply because it requires students to use multiple skills and strategies together. Students will be reading a bulk of these texts throughout the duration of their education, and must be taught early on how to effectively navigate them. After reading, we summarize for various authentic purposes. They can also add words or sentences as they are able. Our final thoughts are the big ideas that we reach by the end of our reading. It’s important that we teach our students to synthesize. Did you know that the prefix “syn” means together? It turns out that synthesizing is one of the more difficult tasks for the brain to do. Notice if there is a pattern. Great for Reading Levels H-M . To move from fables to longer stories with less obvious messages, Ms. Whitman chose Eve Bunting’s beautiful picture book, Butterfly House, appropriate to the class’ ongoing science unit about the life cycle of a butterfly. So as we read aloud to children, we model what we are thinking at the beginning, and how our thinking changes through the story. Why do we teach children to summarize? • When her classmate came up with the analogy that the magma chamber is like the heart of the volcano, he synthesized how the chamber looked and what he knew about its function to create a new way to think about magma. Synthesize definition, to form (a material or abstract entity) by combining parts or elements (opposed to analyze): to synthesize a statement. That’s how our thinking is when we synthesize; we build on our thoughts as we read. is a unit that … How do we teach children to synthesize? And when we don’t want to bore our teachers, friends and family with never-ending renditions of what we’ve read, seen, or done, we need to know how to summarize! When we bake a cake, we combine all of the separate ingredients – eggs, flour, sugar, butter, etc – to make a new thing, a cake! • When a second grader created a diagram of the stages of a volcano (see photo), she was synthesizing information she had learned throughout the text. When thinking about synthesizing, experts have come to agree that there are 3 types of syntheses that students can make. We put together everything that we’ve learned about that topic into a complete synthesis. We want them to do more than just provide a retelling of a text that they read. Explain that at first when the pebble drops in the water, there is just a small ripple. Ms. Whitman chose a pyramid-shaped graphic organizer with three parts to illustrate how our thinking grows from the smaller top of the chart to the larger base. (Build and Activate Schema). Debbie Miller says synthesizing is “the process through which readers bring together their background knowledge and their evolving understanding of the book to create a complete and original understanding of the text.” (Reading with Meaning, p. 171). Second grade teacher Apryl Whitman began teaching her students to synthesize their thinking in fiction by reading fables with them. For longer texts, you may need more than 3 “ripples” for students to complete their syntheses. SAMPLE LESSON: Synthesize Our Thinking in Fiction. We have seen examples of children synthesizing throughout this Reading Comprehension module, even though they had not yet been formally introduced to the strategy: • When first graders found answers to their questions about animals by combining information from more than one paragraph or page of text, they were synthesizing – taking ideas from different places and putting them together for their own purposes. Because retelling is also important, and is often used to measure comprehension of young children’s oral reading, children may get much more instruction and practice in retelling than in summarizing. Click the button below to join for FREE! To learn more about the strategies of Summarizing and Synthesizing, see Suggested Readings. When teaching any new skill in reading, I love to give my students a kid-friendly bookmark with some helpful tips for using a new skill or strategy. We collect new information, form new thoughts and ideas, and evolve our thinking. If you’re already a member, the bookmark is waiting for you under the READING RESOURCES section. A summary may lead to a synthesis, but it’s not where it stops. It might be because this reading comprehension strategy is a mash-up of summarizing, making connections, and making predictions. Use that pattern to name a trait. We use the Gradual Release of Responsibility to provide support for them. Synthesizing requires the reader to take that summary or partial retelling and add in their own thoughts, experiences, opinions, interpretations and connections to generate a new, and bigger idea -- it’s going beyond the text. Does the word synthesizing leave you scratching your head? When we study a topic through multiple texts – books, articles, multimedia resources, and hands-on experiences – we want to synthesize what we’ve learned. Each part teaches you something. She can then move into small group instruction in synthesizing, with children reading books at their own reading levels, and then to using the strategy independently as they read their self-selected books. When students synthesize, they are made aware of how their thinking changes and evolves as they read a text. How do we teach children to summarize? Download a FREE “Synthesizing” student bookmark in our Member’s Resource Library. Synthesizing for Real! In fictional texts, readers synthesize to form a new, deepened or changed understanding about the character and events in the book. Like the ripples, our understanding becomes greater. You can learn more about the 3 types of synthesizing HERE. Students stop and jot down on sticky notes what they think is most important in each part of a text as it is read (aloud or independently). When we reach the end of a book, we are left with our final thought. As students read, they begin to uncover the moral of the story and their thinking changes, develops, and evolves. Explain how each doll fits inside another, growing bigger as you go. Have students record their syntheses and then share them with the rest of the class. How do we teach synthesizing? Summarizing requires focusing on what is important, and as noted in the Determining Importance section, children often think everything is equally important. One way to support understanding is to use physical triggers when modeling this concept.
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