Help students get their knowledge of a topic ready for literacy

Paraphrasing + visualizing
John Munro
Paraphrasing is a key strategy used by effective readers. As they read a text, readers say the ideas
‘in their own words’. They may also build an image of what a sentence is saying in a particular
context. This helps them link the text with what they know and comprehend it. It also helps them
to remember or retain what they are reading. Many students do not do this.
Our pathway
What is paraphrasing+visualizing and how it helps reading
What is paraphrasing during reading? How does it differ from summarising?
Why do it? How does paraphrasing +visualizing assist readers?
When do you do it? How often do you do it?
What do readers do to paraphrase +visualize?
Teaching paraphrasing +visualizing
What tasks can you use to see how well your students paraphrase during reading?
How do you teach students to paraphrase?
What activities can you use to teach paraphrasing?
Suggest synonyms for key words
Link synonyms into a proposition or a relationship.
What activities can you use to teach visualizing?
How can you teach students to use paraphrasing +visualizing independently? A teaching
sequence for developing independent use
How do you build these into your teaching? How do you ‘plan’ them into each lesson?
What should you notice as students continue to use paraphrasing?
What is paraphrasing+ visualizing and how does it help reading?
To understand paraphrasing and visualizing and how they can help comprehension, we first need to
experience them. This also helps us to observe others use them and to teach them.
Read each sentence in the following text and say it in another way. Change as many words as you
can and link them so that your restatement says the same meaning. When you have done it, you
may want to visualize it or make an image of it. You may want to write your paraphrase in the
space provided. As you do this, judge how this helps you to comprehend the text.
Growth of exports
Slow growth of exports is due to
Low income margin of demand.
The income earned by most primary products varies over a small
range only.
The quantity of food consumption is constrained by biological
necessity and population growth in rich countries.
Increased incomes are spent on manufactures and services.
The small increases in expenditure on food tend to reflect
processing and packaging rather than on increased quantities of raw
Similarly, spending on more sophisticated or luxury products often
involves little increase in demand for low materials.
Synthetic substitutes.
Many raw materials have faced declining markets due to the
development of synthetic substitutes.
Timber, metal, cotton, wool, and rubber have all widely used
synthetic substitutes.
Many modern technologies, like the transistor and the micro chip
have enabled many products to become smaller, this economizing
on raw materials.
Low price elasticity of demand for primary products.
The fewer substitutes there are for a product the less price elastic it
will be.
The demand for primary products to any country is likely to be very
price elastic as there are often several other countries producing
close substitutes.
For example, tea and coffee are produced in many LDCs and each
country is likely to try to produce as much product as possible.
The nature of primary products, however, leads to them being very
price inelastic overall.
There are few substitutes for food and many minerals.
Commodities are sold on world markets according to the laws of
supply and demand.
As countries individually increase their output, world price falls
To what extent did paraphrasing + visualizing help you to
Understand each sentence?
Connect with your prior knowledge and other
ideas in the text?
What do you do to paraphrase while reading?
How does it differ from summarising?
What does paraphrasing do?
The income earned by most
primary products varies over a
small range only
What farmers earn
just a litle bit
The matching ideas stimulated in the reader’s mind represents or models the ideas in the text.
How well do your students paraphrase during reading? How often do your students show the
following behaviours when you require them to read or to learn by reading? Rate them on each
scale from 1 (never) to 5 (always).
Never Always
1 2 3 4 5
They easily say the text they read in their own words
They can articulate or present their knowledge of what they’ve read
They can say what they have read in multiple ways
They can use new or different words to express ideas.
They can recall the information and the meaning units in the text
They can see where the text they are reading ‘fits in’ with what they know.
They actively engage with the texts they are required to read, rather than in a ‘half
hearted’ way
They are focused and goal oriented when they read text
How do you teach students to paraphrase sentences?
Steps in learning to paraphrase. You will probably need to teach readers how to paraphrase and
how to think ‘paraphrasing’
To teach students how to paraphrase, give them simple sentences for the content they are learning
and ask them to say the sentence another way by changing as many words as they can. Key actions
they learn to:
Note the topic of the text.
Segment the sentence into key ideas. Use the number of events in the sentence and
grammar to help do this. Note the main verb/s and use them to select (underline / circle)
key words.
Suggest synonyms for key words.
Link synonyms into a proposition or a relationship. They re-arrange phrases and say the
new sentence.
Check that the new sentence has the same meaning as the starting sentence.
Check the sentence fits with the earlier sentences. Each sentence has a purpose or reason in
the text. Readers need to take account of the conceptual links between sentences. Check
that the paraphrase does the same purpose as the original sentence. Take account of the
purpose of sense of each sentence as it is linked with the earlier sentence.
The following is an example of teaching students to paraphrase a sentence
The text
The people of Italy
were also the inheritors of
Step 1: note the
of the old Roman Empire
This is about how people lived in old Rome
The text
The people of Italy
Step 2: select key
words / chunks
The people of Italy
were also the inheritors
Step 3: say synonym
for key words
The Italians
Those living in Italy
as well were given
Step 4: link
and test the
match for meaning
the skills
the inheritors of
got what
the skills
of the old Roman Empire
of the skills of the old Roman Empire
the abilities
in early Rome
the inhabitants of old Roman had
The Italians as well were given the abilities people had in early Rome
Those living in Italy could do what the inhabitants of the old Roman Empire used to do
Students can work both in small groups and individually to do this. If they are writing the new
sentence, they can write the changed words above the text words
It is important to give feedback to students on the accuracy of their paraphrasing. They may need
help to improve how well they do it.
When beginning to teach paraphrasing, have the students work on sentences that are comparatively
simple for them in familiar contexts. Gradually build up to more complex sentences.
Teaching points: Teach each of the steps involved in paraphrasing separately:
Teach synonyms Ask students to suggest synonyms for key words before you ask them to
paraphrase the sentence. You can list the key words in a paragraph or a text and have the
students say synonyms for each. Check that the synonyms fit with the topic.
Teach students how to segment or chunk a sentence into parts. This helps the students
recognize the meaningful units they will use to re-word the sentences. They can segment
one event simple sentences into three or four meaningful parts, for example, The goose
chatted with her neighbours all day long . Segmenting in this way helps them to reword
the sentence systematically
Teach students to link the synonyms into a sentence and check the sentence meaning is
retained. They say the sentence but with synonyms. They need to practise doing this.
Some students find this hard. They may have replaced ‘chatted with’ with ‘talked to’, ‘her
neighbours’ with ‘nearby friends’ and ‘all day long’ with ‘all the time’. They may need to
hear the sentence frame “The goose talked …..” and ask them to use their words to finish it.
To help students match the paraphrased attempts with the original sentence to check that
they say essentially the same idea. You can collect attempts and ask students decide
whether each one says the same meaning and the starting sentence.
If an attempt is incorrect, ask students to suggest the parts that are correct and those that
need to be changed. They can recommend how they might change it. A useful activity is
to give the class 2 or 3 paraphrasing attempts that are incorrect and ask them to correct them.
A second useful activity is to collect two or three attempts from groups in the class and have
the students decide "Which is the closest paraphrase to the text?”
Text : The people of Italy were also the inheritors of the skills of the old Roman Empire
Which is the best match?
The Italians had things
left over from the
Roman Empire
The abilities of people living in
Italy were like those of inhabitants
of the Roman Empire
People living in the Roman Empire
passed on their ways of doing things
to people living in Italy
How does paraphrasing assist reading comprehension
Paraphrasing helps readers to
understand the texts they read
Link the new ideas with what they know.
engage with the text
understand grammatically or conceptually complex sentences by unpack them
Link the new concepts, often in unfamiliar relationships and to talk about the new ideas.
talk about the ideas in the topic area
build and reinforce new vocabulary
Retain the related ideas in short term memory.
It provides a necessary building block towards summarising...
How to build paraphrasing and visualizing into each phase of reading:
Getting knowledge
Students paraphrase
 The title
 What is said on the
 Say in other ways
what peers say about
possible ideas in the
visualize experiences
visualize what the text
might say
While reading
Post reading
Students paraphrase
 Sentences in the text
 Caption for a diagram
 Key conversation in a
 For particular purposes,
sentences that tell the
reader where something
Students paraphrase
 Sentences that say
the key ideas/
sequence of ideas
in the text
 Sentences that say
the meanings of
new words.
visualize sentences,
paragraphs in the text, talk
about imagery
visualize new ideas
Automatize and
Students paraphrase
 Rapidly by
sentences that say
the same idea
 More complex
 Sequences of
use imagery to recall
ideas from text
Types of activities you can use to teach paraphrasing
You can use various teaching procedures.
During reading aloud: Students practise paraphrasing spoken sentences. After one member
of a class reads aloud a sentence, a second student can be asked what another way of saying
it is. Have students listen to one, two and then more sentences and have them practise
saying each sentence another way by changing as many words as possible while keeping the
meaning the same. Have students work in small groups to develop group outcomes.
Students hear or read alternative attempts at paraphrasing a sentence and select the most
accurate, the one closest paraphrase to the text. Some can recognize sentences that are
paraphrases before they can write the paraphrases. They can begin by linking sentences
with paraphrases. Students can be asked to match each sentence in the right hand column
below with the one that says the same message in the left hand column.
Like many animals, the giant panda needs a special
environment to survive.
You find the arrow bamboo in country that is
below 3500 metres high or that has farms.
Its natural habitat is bamboo forest found in China.
Whilst there are many varieties of bamboo, the panda will
eat only four types.
It lives best naturally in bamboo forests in China
The giant panda has to have certain natural
conditions to live.
Their basic diet is arrow bamboo.
The one they like to eat most is arrow bamboo.
The arrow bamboo will not grow in areas above 3500 metres
or in river valleys and plains that have been farmed.
It eats only four of the several types of bamboo.
practise writing paraphrases for sentences for example, for the following sentences from a
Year 9 SOSE text :
Capacity. The applicant must demonstrate the capacity to repay the loan
and interest.
Often lenders will make an assessment on the basis of a ‘rule of thumb’.
For example, in repayments on any existing debts and the proposed loan
make up more than 25 to 30 per cent of the consumer’s disposable
income, then the capacity to pay is questionable.
Capital. The applicant should ideally have some net worth-that is, more
assets than debts- to provide further proof of financial stability.
This may be necessary for small personal loans or credit cards.
Build up to paraphrasing paragraphs. Give a paragraph of 3-4 sentences to a group. Each
student paraphrases one sentence. Combine the four paraphrases into a paragraph.
Substances come in three types of forms; solids, liquids and gases. We say something is a solid if it has a shape that
doesn't change when it is left alone. We call this a 'fixed shape'. Examples are a chair, a biscuit, a rock. Something is
a liquid if it has a fixed amount but not a fixed shape. The space it takes up stays the same. This is called its volume.
However, it changes its shape to match the container that holds it. Something is a gas if it doesn't have a fixed shape or
a fixed volume. It simply fills the shape it is in.
Give them 3-4 paraphrases and ask them to arrange them in order of closet to furthermost
away from text.
How can you teach students to use paraphrasing independently?
You may need a teaching sequence for developing independent use. The goal is for the students to
tell themselves what they will do in order to paraphrase first one sentence then a group of sentences.
Teach a paraphrasing self script. To develop this
Use and model particular paraphrasing
instructions that specify the actions the
students will use as they ‘do paraphrasing’,
for example, Say it / tell it in your own
words. What is another way of saying it?
Tell it to someone else in another way
After using the action a
few times, ask students to
say / explain what they did
when they paraphrase and
comment on how it helps
them read better.
say that
they will
a text before
they begin
to read it
The steps in teaching students to use the paraphrasing strategy is shown in the following sequence:
Guided to paraphrase
Paraphrase and say what they did
Students experience
doing paraphrasing.
The teaching cues and
scaffolds them to say
in other ways simple
sentences they hear
and read. They have
their thinking guided
Students are cued to paraphrase
and then say what they did:
“After I read the sentence I said it
in other ways. They also say how
it helped them. “Saying the
sentence in other ways helped me
understand it’. They can add
paraphrasing to their list of Things
I do when I read.
Say they will
Students say they
will paraphrase
before they begin to
read: “After I have
read a sentence I
will …?
They use their self
talk to guide their
Transfer, apply
Students apply
the strategy
independently to
 More complex
 Two or more
sentences at
 Other topics
Students need to practise using paraphrasing at each step. Each step may take 5-10 sessions to
Automatize paraphrasing
Students make up card games in which they match a sentence with its paraphrase. In groups they
are given a set of cards with one sentence on each. They write a paraphrase on another card.
Its natural
habitat is
bamboo forest
found in China.
It lives
naturally in
bamboo forests
Their basic diet They mainly
is arrow
eat arrow
text sentence
text sentence paraphrase
The giant panda
needs a special
environment to
text sentence
The giant panda
must have certain
conditions to live.
Five pairs of students combine their pairs of cards into a pack and play Snap. Any player can say
Snap when a card and its paraphrase are put down one after the other. Before they begin, each
student pair read out their two cards to the group.
The students can also play Bingo. Each student has a blank Bingo board which has 6 or 8 squares.
From the set of sentences, each student or pair selects six sentences and writes one in each square.
Applicants must show they can repay the loan and interest.
The applicant should have more assets than debts.
Often lenders use a ‘rule of thumb’ to decide if you can get a
It is hard to carry a loan if repayments on existing debts and the
proposed loan add up to more than 25 per cent of disposable
Every loan has a set of conditions the borrower
must meet.
This may be necessary for small personal loans or
credit cards.
In pairs again they make paraphrase cards. These are collected and one is read out at a time.
Students who have the matching sentence on their board get a point. Examples of paraphrase cards:
When borrowers get a
loan, they have to do
particular things
To get a loan, you
need to own more
than you owe.
If a person has to use more than a
quarter of their wages to pay off
debts, a new loan will be hard to
A loan application
is sometimes
decided using rules
that work.
Apply, transfer paraphrasing
Help students learn to transfer paraphrasing to different genres. Teachers can look at the genres
they are using and plan how they will facilitate transfer. Know the genres that were used to reach
paraphrasing and how they can be transferred to new genres.
Help students learn how to paraphrase dictionary entries.
Encouraging students to transfer the use of paraphrasing
When students have learnt to paraphrase particular types of sentences, they can be guided and
scaffolded to transfer it to other topics and more difficult texts. In secondary schools, teachers can
encourage students to use what they have learnt in other subjects. To facilitate the transfer, teachers
Remind students to paraphrase or to ‘talk about’ what they have / will read
Ask them to say how they will do it, for example, they will
select (underline / circle) key words
change words, suggest synonyms for key words
link synonyms into a sentence that ‘says the same’, re-arrange words into sentences
Scaffold the paraphrasing; cue them to work on each aspect.
Teach the mechanism of visualizing: the visualizing strategy
Look at picture and talk about what it shows, answer questions about it.
Look at picture and imagine it changing.
Look at picture, make ‘mental photograph’, obscure picture and talk about what was seen,
answer questions about it. Allow time for this and minimize the verbal interactions while
the student is expected to retain the mental picture.
Look at picture, make ‘mental photograph’, obscure picture and talk about what was seen,
answer questions about it.
Listen to a sentence in a story, visualise and talk about the picture made. Gradually listen to
two or more sentences, make a ‘mental videotape’ and talk about the picture made, talk
about it. They can draw a picture what has happened in the story or what the story may
look like in 5 minutes. Model and teach LIDER strategy; they listen to part of a story and
Introduce the RIDER strategy. Have students read a sentence in story, visualize it and talk
about what the picture. Part of this includes modeling and cueing. Steps in RIDER:
Make a mental picture what has happened in the story.
say the picture they have made
Say how it helped them to remember what happened.
Read ~ Read a sentence
Image ~ Imagine a picture of this in your mind
Describe ~ Describe the image of what you have read with your partner. This is the
paraphrasing aspect.
Evaluate ~ Evaluate the image against your partners image and check against the
for correctness
Repeat ~ Repeat the process again by reading the next sentence.
Students do RIDER with individual sentences, say what they did and how it helped them.
They practice it with controlled text graded and matched for suitability to the student’s
current text and grade level reading ability. They receive ongoing corrective feedback from
the teacher, reflecting on progress and gains being made.
Develop and use a strategy cue card, for example,
read on
Teacher prompting and guidance through the sequence of stages is gradually reduced.
Students say how they will do RIDER before they do it. They use these self-management
strategies. They say what they will do next, at each stage of the strategy and why. The
intention was to get the students to be more strategic learners.
Students transfer the strategies to texts in different content areas and text difficulty levels.
How does visualizing assist reading comprehension
Visualizing gives students the ability to
build virtual experiences for what is read, put them into a context and link them
retain them in short term visual memory
Imagine how the ideas might change, that is, predict or infer.
How do the strategies fill in the VELS English continuum?
Using VELS English continuum to describe student progress
VELS continuum Indicators of English Progress 2.0-2.25
Students talk about the reading actions they will use as they read and begin to plan how they
will use them
Students decide the likely topic of a text by using fewer illustrations and more written text
information, such as notes on the back cover or hearing the first paragraph of the text read to
them. They can adjust their predicted topic, suggest words, phrases and ideas that the text
might say and suggest questions the text might answer.
How to manage and
direct your reading;
meta-cognitive control
Topic strategy
Students read the text aloud relatively fluently and integrate text information from multiple
sources, thus demonstrating their knowledge of the topic, the text structure, and the sentence
and letter patterns. They recognize when they misread words and take steps to self correct.
When they lose reading fluency, they take steps to regain it.
Read text aloud fluently
Students engage in silent reading activities. For example they read silently for short periods.
Read text silently
Students work out the meanings of unfamiliar words by: (1) suggesting synonyms for them;
and (2) using the word's context, the sentence and one or more of its letters.
Word meaning strategy
Students paraphrase and visualize sentences as they read them.
Sentence meaning
Students suggest questions that the text answers as they read through it.
Question strategy
Students review and consolidate what they have read during and after reading.
Review and consolidate
Students display literal comprehension by: (1) retelling what they have read in their own
words and including key ideas; (2) answering questions that relate to information stated
explicitly; (3) locating directly stated information … and interpreting labeled diagrams; (4)
doing the actions described in sentences, for example ….; (5) arranging sentence cards in
order to tell a story; and (6) completing simple cloze activities.
Show literal
Students display inferential comprehension while reading the text by using the portion they
have read so far to predict whether the text is more likely to be imaginative or reality based,
what might be said, suggest who, when, where, how and what questions the text might
answer, predict plausible endings and infer the feelings of characters.
Show inferential
Students infer how ideas and events might differ given changes and alternatives. For example
having read about the life cycle of a butterfly, they predict it might be affected by a drought.
Infer change in ideas
Students infer an author’s purpose for writing a text and recognize texts are written for
particular purposes
infer author’s purpose
Students distinguish between texts that are: (1) narrative versus factual; (2) that represent real
versus imaginary experiences and explain the meanings of simple imagery and figurative text.
Identify type of text to
work out purpose
Students infer how ideas and events might differ given changes and alternatives. For example
having read about the life cycle of a butterfly, they predict how the life cycle might be
affected by a drought.
Infer change in ideas.
Students infer an author’s purpose for writing a text and recognize that texts are written for
particular purposes.
infer an author’s
Students talk about the actions they use while reading to learn, for example, to ….
identify new literacy
strategies learnt
Students describe how reading helps them and is a useful activity, for example, to teach new
ideas efficiently, and to learn how different people think about a topic
Develop their attitude to
reading and themselves
as readers.
Text Level Knowledge: Scaffolding learning from 4.25
Indicators of Progress
Students describe their reading plan for these types of texts, noting some of
the actions mentioned in level 4 and modify their plans, particularly in
terms of how they will comprehend general statements and use the main
ideas in sentences to comprehend paragraphs.
How to manage and direct your
reading; meta-cognitive control
of reading activity
Students skim and scan the text using the sequence of topic sentences to
decide its likely topic and combine these using headings in level 4.
Topic strategy
Students identify how a text is organized, distinguish between particular
types of informative texts and use this to assist them to interpret texts as in
level 4.
Work out purpose strategy
Students read the text independently, either silently or aloud as appropriate;
they may switch from one mode to the other if necessary for
comprehension or other communication purposes.
Read text aloud fluently
Students work out the subject-specific meanings of an unfamiliar topic
word by …..
Word meaning strategy
Students use sentence-level comprehending strategies such as combining
visualizing and paraphrasing to understand the meanings of…”
Sentence meaning strategy
Students use the paragraph-level comprehending strategy of selecting the
main idea in each sentence and sequencing them in the intended way, for
example…., They record key ideas in the text by taking notes as they read.
Paragraph comprehending
Students use paragraph synthesis strategies; they paraphrase each topic
sentence and integrate these. They synthesize this strategy when
summarizing each paragraph.
Discourse synthesis strategy
Students consolidate what they read by suggesting or selecting the
summary sentence for a sequence of narrative sentences or a paragraph.
Review and consolidate
Students show literal comprehension as in level 4, for example, they ….
Show literal comprehension
Students show inferential comprehension in some of the ways described in
level 4, for example…
Show inferential
comprehension outcome
Students suggest the author’s purpose for writing the text, for example,
justify their suggestion …, and evaluate how well the text achieved its
Infer the author’s purpose
Students describe how texts are written for particular purposes; they …..
Describe purpose of text
Students talk about the actions they use while reading to learn, for
example, to …….
identify and clarify the new
literacy strategies they have
Students describe how reading helps them and is a useful activity, for
example, to teach new ideas efficiently, and to learn how different people
think about a topic
Develop their attitude to
reading and themselves as
Professional learning pathway for each teacher and school
Steps in planning the professional learning pathway
The term by term outcome for each
class in school: what will students,
teachers and SLTs are doing
differently at end of each term?
The professional learning
plan for each teacher; how
will teacher learning for each
term outcome be
The week by week
implementation plan for each
teacher and student group; how
will literacy learning develop over
each term?
The professional learning plan. The professional learning plan for each stakeholder in the schoolhow the professional learning opportunities for each teacher will be implemented:
The teaching procedures to be trialed by each teacher
The demonstration peer modeling and in class coaching to be implemented
How group knowledge will be shared and pooled, reflective professional practice
How teaching implementation will be monitored, indicators of progress
To generate an implementation plan for each teacher. The following steps can be used:
Use the student outcomes to sequence /arrange the student activities in a ‘learning based’
way across the term and add the types of activities you will use to achieve this.
Teaching – learning plan for any strategy:
Students experience
doing the strategy; it is
cued and scaffolded by
the teaching. They
have their thinking
Students do the strategy and say what
they did; they say the strategy in words
after doing it: “Before I began to read
me …? They have their thinking
guided and say what they did to think.
They keep a list of Things I do when I
Students say the
strategy they will use
before they do it
“Before I begin to read
I will …? They use
language to guide their
Students practise and
apply the strategy
independently. They
automatize it and link
it with other strategies
Audit the teaching. Develop and record the teaching procedures the teacher will use to guide
/scaffold student learning.
Weekly schedule for teaching each strategy. Write in the strategy/ies you will teach each week and
the learning status of the teaching. The following is an example.
Use strategy
orally when
Use strategy in
reading when
Use strategy in
reading when cued,
say what you did
and evaluate its use
self-cue; say
strategy you will
use in reading
and use it
and link with