Synthesizing to Build Reading Comprehension - Isles District 4

Jeremy Sallow
REED 663
Dr. Pitcher
Fall 2010
 “Synthesizing
is the process whereby a student
merges new information with prior knowledge
to form a new idea, perspective, or opinion to
generate insight” (Bumgarner, 2010, p. 1).
 Synthesizing
while reading allows students to
form a deeper understanding of text. It also
creates an increased ability to comprehend
and form new ideas. When students are able
to connect multiple texts or prior knowledge, a
deeper meaning is gained.
 This
study was completed with my fifth
grade students at Timber Grove Elementary
 The
lessons were completed over a 30
minute period for several days.
 The
lessons applied the gradual release
model as the lessons continued.
 Before
beginning with synthesizing
instruction, I began with a review of
questioning and summarizing, two skills
necessary to synthesize.
 This was a brief review of how to use
questioning and how to generate a summary.
 These two skills were also modeled when
creating a synthesis.
introduce the book The Other Side by
Jacqueline Woodson. I informed the
students that today we would be reading the
story to generate a synthesis of The Other
 I asked the students if they knew what
synthesizing was and was not surprised that
the students were not aware of synthesizing.
explained to my students that synthesizing
would include how they felt about what they
were going to read, which the students
 I informed the students that as we read we
would generate a list of questions that we
had from the story.
This list of questions
was generated by
modeling my own
thoughts while
 Additional questions
were generated by
students as we
continued to read.
 The questions were
typed on a list for
tomorrows lesson.
Class Questions from The Other Side
What does Clover’s mom mean when she
says, “That’s the way it has always
Why don’t we know the girls’ names
until later in the book?
Why does Annie keep calling the little
girl, “that girl”?
What does the fence symbolize?
What is the time period of this story?
Why did mama say that it wasn’t safe to
climb over the fence and play?
Why did Sandra say no to the little girl
when she asked to play with the girls?
Why didn’t Mama say anything to Clover
when she was sitting on the fence?
Why do the girls say that one day
someone is going to knock the fence
began the second lesson by re-reading The
Other Side to the class.
 We then went over the questions we
generated from the previous day.
 I asked students for some answers to our
questions in order to form a better
understanding of the text.
 Today’s focus in on summarizing the story in
order to help students generate a synthesis.
 I showed the students a summary of the story
that I had written the day before.
 The
summary was
displayed on a
chart, but only the
summary side was
 After discussing
with the class the
different points of
the summary I
showed them the
my thoughts and
ideas part of the
displayed a
model for
synthesizing from
the book The
Other Side.
 The underlined
portion highlights
my thoughts and
ideas about the
 In
today’s lesson the students are given a
selection from Don’t Know Much About Rosa
 The students were directed to read the
selection with a partner and then generate a
summary of the section together.
 As the students are working on the summary
I walked around to check with each group to
make sure the summaries were on point.
 After
students completed the summary they
began to focus on their own thoughts using
the chart to write down their thoughts and
 After listing their thoughts and ideas the
students began to write their synthesis of the
summary and their ideas.
 As the students work I check with each table
to make sure they are understanding the
synthesizing strategy.
 This
student is
working on her
synthesis of the
guided practice.
 She completed the
chart and is using
the information to
complete the
written synthesis.
 The
students were allowed to choose from a
variety of books in order to complete their
assessment activity for this lesson.
 The students began by using the chart to
write the summary and their thoughts and
 After the students completed the chart they
wrote their synthesis by combining their
 This
is one of my
students working
on the graded
 He is using the
chart to write his
 This student chose
the book about
Tony Hawk’s life.
 The
students did well during the teacher
model. They were focus and engaged and
offered many questions and ideas.
 The students did well during the guided
practice, but did have some questions as to
how to combine the summary and their
 The students did well on the assessment.
They were able to generate a synthesis that
clearly showed a combination of the story
details and their own thoughts and ideas.
 These
lessons follow a skill that has become
a primary focus over the last few years in
Baltimore County.
 The education field has pushed for students
to make personal connections with the text
to build comprehension.
 I chose to share this lesson with two of my
fellow teammates since synthesizing is
taught primarily in fifth grade.
 I emailed the project to Ms. RouchardVollmer and Ms. Patricia Carroll and asked
them to provide feedback on the lesson.
Most of the curriculums we are given include low level
thinking activities or questions as the students are
expected to show comprehension of the skills and
concepts. Unfortunately, this is not enough for our
students. Synthesis is a necessary skill that involves higher
level thinking, and our students must be taught how to
think at a higher level just as we teach them how to
comprehend. This lesson is a great combination of lower
level and higher level thinking as students must summarize
the text while incorporating their own opinions and prior
knowledge. Through this lesson students will be able to
see that they must be active readers who think about the
text rather than innocent bystanders who just take in the
information. We must do this type of lesson more often as
we must show our students that we value their ideas, prior
knowledge, and connections.
1.) Relating the text to how the students feel is great since we often ask them to regurgitate their
reading rather than interacting and relating to it. Synthesizing allows for personal connections
which often go deeper than just retelling a beginning, middle and end.
2.) I like how you chose a book in the teacher guided practice that was similar to the instruction
piece since it was easy for the children to remember certain things from the previous worksheets
on race differences. It also is a hidden curriculum piece in regards racism and tolerance, and since
we have a diverse school population, the children can definitely make personal meaningful
3.) Having the students choose their own book that interests them to create a synthesis is crucial
to meaningful, personal connections. When the students get to choose, it not only empowers them
as learners, but they can make those connections and relationships easily throughout text to self,
text to world and even text to text (if their interests span a variety of those types of books).
Mrs. Rouchard-Vollmer
J. Rouchard-Vollmer
5th Grade,Timber Grove Elementary
 From
this lesson one thing that I learned
from my students is that they had difficulty
with summarizing and needed to focus on
that skill before delving into synthesizing.
 I liked the lesson and thought that it went
well, but it can be time consuming so make
sure to limit the instruction to 30 minutes a
day to leave time for other instruction.
 I did go over the 30 minutes a couple days
and could have made this a five day lesson
instead of four.
 This
is a lesson that can be used from year to
year. The general idea of the lesson can be
adapted to a variety of texts.
 This lesson will work for a variety of age
groups, but does need to be modified for
primary students.
 This lesson can be used by many teachers
and can be adapted for different level
Bumgarner, Shannon. (2010). Advancing
literacy instruction together.
Retrieved on October 10, 2010
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