Power of Paraphrasing

Teaching students how to paraphrase is an important aspect of language acquisition. A 'paraphrase' is a detailed restatement in your own words. Adding sources into writing is a critical college and career ready skill.

How can we practically implement this process into our daily lesson plans?

Here are some important steps we recommend following to help this process be successful in your classroom.

Step 1. Scaffold the Process

Make it an oral process before writing! Consider students paraphrasing one another, before having them summarize in a written paper. Think of fun, free-style prompts for students to discuss with their peers. For example, have students discuss their favorite activity to do with each other. Once students have mastered the process of paraphrasing free-style prompts, you can pull in more academic prompts for students to discuss and paraphrase.

Step 2. Split students into pairs

To set up the paraphrasing activity, divide students into pairs or groups. Some teachers like to have A/B Partners set up in their classroom. You can partner up students strategically. Maybe pair up a couple of students who don’t normally have a lot of interaction. Or pair up students who speak the same primary language. Based on the needs of your classroom, decide as a teacher how you would like to go about this process.

Step 3. Introduce a fun prompt

Once students are in pairs, introduce a prompt. Remember, make it non-academic at first.

Step 4. Provide students with a 10/2 Discussion or a chance to turn and talk.

Let students know how many minutes they have to discuss so both students have a chance to share-out. Some teachers prefer to scaffold this process by providing 2 minutes for student A to share-out. Once the 2 minutes is up, you can have the student B share out. This will encourage speaking and listening skills through the process of discussions.

Step 5. Paraphrase Share-Out!

After the 10/2 discussions, invite students to paraphrase what their partner shared. The rule we add in here to promote cultural sensitivity and respect is if you want to paraphrase your partner, ask them for permission first. We do this because sometimes what students are comfortable with sharing out one on one, they aren’t comfortable sharing out to a whole group. This develops trust and positive interactions between the students.

Step 6. Check in

Once a student has paraphrased their partner, we ask the student who shared out to check in with their partner and ask them, “Did I paraphrase you correctly?” In this way, we are honoring the experiences students are sharing and teaching our students how to check in with one another. This allows students to organically learn the process of citing sources and confirming information.

Offer students to practice paraphrasing multiple times a week!

The process of paraphrasing engages students' ability to learn actively, have richer writing, and create personal connections with each other in the classroom. Remember to scaffold and support as needed. In no time, your students will master the skill of paraphrasing. It will help students pick up on main ideas and supporting details, they will learn how to process information and convey their understanding.

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