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Activity Type: Introduce
Activity Form: Standard
Grade: 4, 5
Group Size: Pairs or small groups
Length: 20-30 minutes
Materials: Paraphrasing Worksheet
Poetry Worksheet
Goal: Build sentence and paragraph comprehension by summarizing and paraphrasing
Items: Content covered

[edit] Steps to follow

  1. Explain to students the meaning of paraphrase. Today we are going to work on something called paraphrasing. Does anyone know what that means? I will give you an example.
  2. Read the following and then the paraphrase. Five friends came to practice skateboarding at the skate park. Four of the friends brought their helmets. Bruce started skating with no helmet. The rest of the boys looked at each other. Bruce was their friend. They knew the skate park rules. They knew what they had to do. Paraphrase: Friends don’t let friends skateboard without a helmet!
  3. Discuss the paragraph and the paraphrase. Help the students understand that a paraphrase is about expressing the meaning of a paragraph in your own words. It is a summary or rewording or interpretation of text.
  4. When you are comfortable that students understand what paraphrasing is, have them work in pairs on the Paraphrasing Worksheet. They should read the paragraph first and then circle one of the four sentences that best state the same meaning (the paraphrase).
  5. Discuss their reasons for choosing their sentences.
  6. Use the activity as a model for students to develop their own paragraphs and paraphrases to share with each other and with the class. They may either write original paragraphs or choose passages from library books in the classroom.
  7. To extend the paraphrasing activity, have students choose a passage from their science or social studies book to paraphrase. Have them write their paraphrases on strips of paper and display them under the paragraph so you can review.
  8. For English Language Learners, use the worksheet as a discussion tool. Have the student read the passages to ensure understanding. Then have the student explain what was read. Explaining the meaning using one’s own words can be the beginning of paraphrasing.
  9. For an extra challenge, have students paraphrase a poem. Read the poem and then paraphrase the whole poem or try to paraphrase each line. Use the Poetry Worksheet as an example or choose your own poems.

[edit] About this activity

This activity was contributed by Scientific Learning.

Paraphrasing is an effective learning strategy for aiding comprehension. In a study of learning strategies (Schumaker, Denton, & Dschler, 1984), students were helped with paraphrasing by using the acronym RAP:

  • Read a paragraph
  • Ask yourself, “What were the main idea and details in this paragraph?”
  • Put the main idea and details into your own words.