Purpose: Synthesizing is an important and challenging critical thinking skill. (It's in the Transitions Integration Framework on page 42.) This activity practices one approach to synthesizing: changing your thinking as you read new information.
Prep Time: Varies from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, see notes under prep.
Materials: Copies of a story or article, copies of the Synthesis worksheet (see attachment below).
Prep: You will need one or two articles or stories for students to read. These could be ones you have already used, or you may need to find new ones. Read the stories to see if the story line or information in the text is likely to result in a change in thinking. An example text is linked in the procedure below.
Demonstrate to students how to fill out the Synthesis worksheet. Show the students an article or story, using a projector. Do a think aloud about your thoughts about the topic and demonstrate filling in the first box in the worksheet. For example, before reading this text titled “Learning Is Playing,” you could write that you think this article is about the importance of giving children time to play and the things children learn when they play.
Read the text together. Stop when you read new information and write it in the second box on the worksheet. In the example, you could write that the article is actually about making learning fun by playing games with your children.
After reading, write some new ideas in the last box on the worksheet. For the example text, you could write that you are wondering what other ways a parent could make learning fun. One idea is to look at street signs while driving and see how many different shapes you can find.
Do some pre-reading exercises with an additional article or story (review vocabulary, set the context, etc). This could be in a future reading lesson or on the same day.
Elicit some of the students’ thoughts about the topic and invite students to write these thoughts on a class copy of the Synthesis worksheet (on a projector).
Read the text a few times. Invite students to write new information that they learned on the class copy of the worksheet.
Give students a minute to think about any new ideas or changes in thinking they have that they can write in the last box. Have them discuss these new ideas with a neighbor and then call on a couple students to write their ideas in the worksheet.
In a future reading lesson, review how to fill out the Synthesis worksheet and then ask students to fill out their own copies before, during, and after they read.