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Many of my students struggle with how to read informational text (such as their Social
Studies books) and express the main concepts in their own words. The tend to copy
sentences out of the textbook instead of writing them more personally, and thus do not
demonstrate any real understanding of the text or concept. My own students, certainly,
are guilty of this both when completing small tasks like answering questions on
worksheets, and on larger writing tasks such as summarizing articles or constructing
arguments. I would like to help them move beyond copying the textbook and into
showing they actually understand ideas be putting them in their own words. To that end,
I would like to teach them a process to help them learn to paraphrase. In addition, I am
aiming to teach this process in social studies early in the year so that when they reach
the research unit in English later in the year (I have the same students for two different
classes), they will be able apply their note-taking and paraphrasing skills to their
research projects in order to better understand and use their sources and avoid
My basic framework here is one of modeling followed by scaffolded attempts that
will lead (I hope) to students being able to complete the task independently. I want to
provide an exemplar as well as guided practice. Over the course of the year, I actually
hope to provide a great deal of practice for them on this skill—as Vince Lombardi would
say, “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” 

Standards Addressed:

Grade 8 Reading Standards for Information Text
2. Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the
text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the

4.Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including
figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word
choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

Grade 8 Writing Standards

Procedures: 1) Have pre-selected students act out the short scene from The Loathsome Lady. or show video. organization.4. and style are appropriate to task. and audience. 8th grade ND Studies textbook) -Whiteboard/Active board. giving sufficient background information as introduction to the skit. 4. including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies. If having students act. Materials Needed: -Skit or video for “hook” (in this case: The Loathsome Lady by Jim and Jane Jeffries. -Students will paraphrase selections. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text. or other skit. pencils. notebooks. etc. purpose. preserving meaning while changing original language. preserving meaning but avoiding copying. Pioneer Drama Service. . provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source. Objectives: -Students will take notes on non-fiction text. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development. Grade 8 Literacy Standards for Social Studies2.) -Nonfiction text (in this case: Chapter 1 of North Dakota Legendary. Inc. as planned by teacher. Provide appropriate props and/or costume as available. give them the script ahead of time. -Students will demonstrate understanding of texts by putting information in their own words.

–Here for 28. how were the Jester’s comments related to Arthur’s words? b. together. he was putting things in his own words.2) After scene. Have actors repeat lines as necessary. come to a class consensus on why paraphrasing is important and when they would need to use it. lead students in discussion. a.000 years c.000 BC d. –didn’t cover SW part of state e. c. d. Write main ideas in bullet form. Then. –Most recent glacier = Wisconsinan b. pick out main ideas of selected paragraphs. 4) Open to text. removing original language from their sight. a writer needs to both use his or her own words AND give the same information the original text does. Were the Jester and Arthur telling the same story? 3) Ask students for the meaning of the word paraphrase—construct definition based on their responses a. In discussion. . 5) Explain the first step we’ll take in paraphrasing is taking notes. Point out—yes. Together. While Arthur was telling his story. –called badlands 6) Have student double-check notes to make sure the language they used isn’t too similar and the meaning is the same. 7) Have student cover or close books. he wasn’t preserving meaning very well. construct a new paragraph that paraphrases the original using only their bulleted notes. Explain that in order to paraphrase correctly. and taking out of complete sentences a. Read together selected paragraphs. Was the Jester doing a very good job of paraphrasing Arthur? b. –receded around 10. taking out of original language. no. -SW formed by wind/water erosion f.

have student compare paraphrases with a partner to check for meaning and that original language hasn’t been copied. That part was formed by wind and water erosion instead. double check the new paragraph against the original to make sure that we haven’t borrowed too heavily from the original language. It didn’t cover the southwest part of the state.000 BC. The most recent glacier to cover ND was the Wisnconsinan. they still need to cite their sources in order to avoid plagiarism!!!!!***** 10) Read the next paragraph together. how to do it. Give student time to independently write their bullet list of main ideas. 14) Have students read paraphrases out loud. 16) Assign another short reading selection for students to take notes on and paraphrase independently. If you or the class flag problems in their writing. not to produce a grade. It was here for 28.a. and is called the Badlands. In a larger class.000 before it receded around 10. 9) **Make sure to stress to students that even if they paraphrase. 8) Again. Instruct other students to listen carefully to see if our two paraphrase criteria—original language and same meaning— have been met. explain what they’ve learned about paraphrasing-what it is. If possible. in writing. 11) Have students compare notes with a partner to make sure that they have taken the notes out of the original language but still say the same thing. there may only be time to hear a selection. 12) Have students cover the original and use their notes to create a short paraphrase of the 2nd selection. 15) Ask students to. The goal is learning how to do it right. In a small class. 13) Again. and why they need that skill and when they should use it. have all students read. have student read paraphrase out loud the next day in class to hear the variety of how it can be done and to find problems and make revisions. have them make corrections. when they’re working from a source. .