In this lesson, students explore how to become better readers by putting information together. First, a teacher read-aloud inspires a class discussion that focuses on sorting information so that it makes better sense to the reader. Students then participate in a shared reading that allows them to again use the process of putting information together. Finally, they extend their understanding through an online interactive activity.
- Students will use context clues to make predictions about texts.
- Students will put stories in sequential order.
- Students will identify story elements and details.
- Students will assemble sentences to make meaning.
Grade Level: K-5
- Choose a book that provides ample opportunity for synthesizing (e.g. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch or Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole).
- Synthesizing Handout: Word Document
- “The Train Game” Online Interactive
PART I: Introducing the Strategy
- Discuss with students their prior knowledge of fairy tale stories involving a princess, a prince, and a dragon. Typical responses should include (or be guided to): the princess being held captive or tortured by the dragon, the prince saving the princess, etc. Ask students to remember some stories they may know in which this situation occurs. Write the usual events of these stories on the board. Go back and have the students put them in the correct order of occurrence. Guide discussion so that you talk about how knowing each of the events that happen in a story helps you to understand it better. Talk about how familiar stories are so easy to understand because the sequence and type of events are expected. Also discuss how being able to put even unfamiliar story events in order can help to make sense of what is happening and lead to better understanding of what we are reading.
- Introduce the book, The Paper Bag Princess. Look at the cover and pictures, make some predictions about characters, setting, and events. Read the story aloud to the students. (It may be helpful if the book had been scanned to a computer and projected so that the students could see the text and pictures.)
- After reading the story, talk about how this plotline parallels the traditional princess and dragon tale, but has an unexpected twist. Have the students identify what happened in this story and write the information on the board. Once all major events have been identified, put them in the correct sequential order. Discuss why the author may have chosen to write the story this way, and what he might be trying to teach us.
PART II: Review and Practice
- Hand out the Synthesizing Information worksheet. Read the passages aloud, work together to put the events in the proper order, discuss the author’s message and main idea. Also discuss how the students’ background knowledge and experience helped to sort and understand the information.
- Review what synthesizing is and ways we have practiced it. Recall The Paper Bag Princess and other passages we have read as well as familiar stories.
PART III: Incorporating the Online Activity/Checking for Understanding
- Have students work in centers that include practicing with the online Synthesize activity, reading a short story on their level and synthesizing it, and working with the teacher on synthesizing so that the teacher can assess student progress using this strategy.