Super Strategies for
Teaching Paraphrasing and
Summarizing!
Cristin A. Boyd
Studies in American Language, San
Jose State University, San Jose/Silicon
Valley California USA
[email protected]
http://boydsteachingresources.pbworks.com/
SOME ‘SLIGHTLY RANDOM’ THOUGHTS
Little to no research about teaching
paraphrasing
 Limited resources for actual “how to” (most
grammar focused)
 Activities based on 17+ years of teaching reading
& writing (and a search for resources)
 Not an exhaustive collection (share ideas)
 How-to/what of citation is not black & white
 Accessible readings = soft sources (popular
magazines)

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Justification: build skills & confidence
Today’s Outline
Challenges, activity, practice, variations, repeat
End: more Q & A and create resources

TERMS & MEANING FOR THIS
PRESENTATION


Paraphrase:
A restatement of an
author’s idea.

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Usually a shorter piece of
text -- sentence or two.
Length of restatement
can be as long as or
longer than original.
Attribution is required
for every paraphrase.
Paraphrasing is a
fundamental part of
writing a summary.

Summary:
A series of
restatements about an
article, essay, etc.
 Restatements work
together as a whole.
 Summary is much
shorter than original.
 Generally requires one
attribution.

CHALLENGES FOR ESL/EFL STUDENTS

Ownership of ideas varies between cultures.
Memorized sections of Confucianism
 Mother: Person I admire (Yongfang 2003)


Paraphrasing may be interpreted differently.
Restating words of scholars = bad news
 Common knowledge in collectivist cultures


Some cultures are reader (vs. writer) responsible.

Assumptions re: reader knowledge
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MORE CHALLENGES

Reading skills
Ss misunderstand original
 Ss depend on lower-level reading skills (decoding)
 Ss lack vocabulary


Ss are preoccupied with grammar/sentence
structure.
Teacher feedback/learning focus on grammar/
sentence structure
 Grammar = mastery of language

Textbooks don’t explain “how” to paraphrase.
 Teachers don’t explain “how” either.

THE MOST PRESSING CHALLENGE
(IN MY EXPERIENCE/OPINION). . .
a misplaced
focus
on the word
WHY IS THIS A MISPLACED FOCUS?

Meaning in English is not character/word-level


Cited source info used to support paragraph-level
ideas

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Sentences and paragraphs carry meaning
1 paragraph = 1 idea (topic sentence, supporting,
conclusion)
Paraphrase = restatement of an idea (that is used
to support another idea)
WHY DO SOME STUDENTS FOCUS ON
WORDS?
Desire to understand
everything
 Low-level
reading/learning
skills
 Words are tangible;
ideas often elusive
 Native country
learning (lang = math)
 Grammar-based
paraphrase activities

Heavy reliance on
bottom-up processing
 Memorization-focused
learning
 Word-focused L1


Example
L1 INFLUENCE ON WORD FOCUS
mu ('tree') shows a trunk and two leafless branches of
a tree. The bottom half of the character may be
hanging branches or the roots of a tree .… the
character doubles to represent "forest" and triples to
represent "dense forest." It joins with the character for
"person" to represent "rest,” . . .
mo ('last' or 'top') shows a tree in which the top is
marked with a horizontal stroke, while
ben ('source' or 'origin') shows a tree in which the root is
marked with a horizontal stroke.
Relationships between characters complex also
From:
http://www.mmtaylor.net/Literacy_Book/DOCS/pt1.html
WHERE IS MEANING?
In English . . .
-- a collection of words (groups of sentences and
paragraphs)
-- “discourse blocks” (Christensen 1963, Pitkin 1969) - paragraphs (Kaplan 1972)
By focusing on Words, Ss =
 Miss & Misunderstand main ideas when
reading
 Worry too much about individual words,
grammar & sentence structure
 Paraphrase slowly & laboriously
 End up with stilted, awkward, incorrect
paraphrases (plagiarized content?)
http://boydsteachingresources.pbworks.com/
PROBLEMS WITH GRAMMAR-BASED
PARAPHRASE ACTIVITIES
Examples
Some combination of
changes to original:
 compliment and
subject positions
 verb from positive to
negative
 verb from active to
passive
Problems
Focuses too much on
words
 Result:

Missed/misunderstood
idea
 Poor/Jumbled/Stilted
Restatement

To overcome
these challenges & resulting
TO TO OVERCOM
problems:
all paraphrase work in my classes
is based on . . .
First understanding an idea
then restating it.
WHERE TO BEGIN: GOOD READING
SKILLS (UNDERSTANDING IDEAS)
Pre-read to get overall gist of article/section
 Read fast, multiple times
 Focus on IDEA/s
 Focus on content words (vs. function)
 Scan for main ideas
 In paragraphs and sentences
 Avoid getting side tracked on individual words

http://boydsteachingresources.pbworks.com/
READING SKILLS (CONTINUED)
R
Mmy ading Skills
Work through ambiguity.
 Avoid translation.
 Use dictionaries very rarely

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Use context for meaning

Look up:
 important & repeated keys words
 only when main idea truly can’t
be deciphered.
Embrace a new style of reading!
Resource: What good readers do handout
#1 PARAPHRASING RESOURCE!
STEPS FOR PARAPHRASING WELL
Introduced and regularly practiced & reviewed. . .
on board,
in quizzes
& front page of class wiki
Resource: “Paraphrase Well” handout
STEPS FOR PARAPHRASING WELL
1) Read the section
repeatedly to
understand the main
idea.
2) List important key
words.
3) Cover original & restate
the main idea in your
different words.
4) Don’t worry about
grammar! Restate idea
first!
5) Check restatement for
clarity of original idea
(& original structure)
6) Check grammar & edit
as needed.
7) Check attribution.
AS THE TEACHER…
I CONSISTENTLY WALK THE
TALK and
focus mainly on Ss’ restated
ideas
I address grammar only after the idea
is clear.
PARAPHRASE “ON THE RUN”
Paraphrase “on the run”
A fun, active activity for practice with word
meanings from context (definitions)

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Original text posted outside class
‘Runner’ reads a definition outside (2 minutes)
‘Scribe’ is told meaning inside classroom
Collaboratively write a new definition
Same activity with steps/list article
 Ss can exchange and check others’ work
Limit Time! Don’t allow Ss time to memorize!
VERBAL RESTATEMENT
do activity
VERBAL RESTATEMENT
Ss retell main idea verbally
Speaking = less worry about
grammar, sentence structure,
perfection
T can draw out some missing
points/details; walk S toward main
idea.
“You almost have it, but isn’t
there something about X ?”
MAGAZINE BLUBS

Do activity
MAGAZINE BLUBS
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Use short blurbs from magazines.
Provide a context for paraphrase.
Ss work in pairs
 Limited time – about 5 minutes.
 Makes Ss focus on idea, can’t get side
tracked w/ vocabulary, no time to look up
words, pressure to report main idea.
Short blurbs focus students on one idea
Context makes paraphrasing more realistic
Context focuses reading on using an idea for
support
SUMMARY RESOURCES

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“Finding main
ideas” handout
Summary Grid
How to Write a
Summary handout
(on wiki)
Debate in Costco
Connection magazine
INTEGRATION WORK

To integrate paraphrased source into a
paragraph
 Sentence 1: introduces topic (topic
sentence)
 Sentence 2: introduces paraphrase
 Sentence 3: connects/integrates
source & main idea.
Resource: integration handout
SOURCE LIST
1: New York Times Up Front Nov 22, 2010
2: New York Times Up Front Oct 25, 2010
3: Health June 2009
4: Mothering Jan 2010
Thank You!
http://boydsteachingresources.pbworks.com/
WHAT IS SENTENCE-LEVEL PARAPHRASING?
WHERE DOES IT FIT INTO STEPS FOR RESTATING MAIN
Sentence-level
paraphrase work

Using synonyms

Changing sentence from active to
passive and vice versa.

Changing parts of speech.

Combining sentences.

Inverting complement and
predicate.
See grammar toolbox web
link/handout on wiki page.
IDEAS?
When and where?

Only after main idea has been
restated.
 Word level focus = lost main
idea.
 Back to L1 reading skills.

Only as a means to fine-tune a
paraphrase; make it less like
original.
In some classes I never give out a
sentence-based handout!
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