Synthesizing text is when readers "put it all together" to move from literal understandings to inferential understandings. This takes practice and breaking it down into more manageable tasks so young readers can see the process of synthesis in action. Young readers must see their changing thinking as a signal of understanding and comprehending a text.
As readers learn how to monitor their comprehension they must take their thinking to another level. Your readers must see how their thinking moves from literal understandings to reflective thinking that evolves into inferential understanding about the text.
A proficient reader's thinking grows and develops as they gather new information in the text as they read. This is called synthesizing text.
Because reading is such a complex process with so many moving parts, it's important to make the process of synthesizing visible.
This concept is best represented like ripples in a pond or puddle. The rock hitting the water is the reader's initial thinking and that creates ripples. As a reader reads and gathers new information in the text the ripples grow larger.
This is the best way to illustrate the concept of synthesis and show your young readers how their thinking will grow, change and evolve.
Readers need to see how this process of synthesis works to help build comprehension and understanding about a text.
When this piece of the process is made visible for young readers, they will be able to see how all the moving pieces (strategies and skills) work together.
Key Teaching Points for Synthesizing Text
There are several key teaching points that need to be broken down over more than several minilessons.
Teaching Point 1
Show your readers what synthesis looks like when their thinking evolves. Use the pond ripples strategy to demonstrate how thinking changes.
Teaching Point 2
Readers need time and practice to recognize how their thinking evolves and changes.
Provide readers with visual representations of the pond ripples to use for recording their thinking while reading.
Teaching Point 3
Readers monitor the overall meaning of a text as they read and understand how their thinking grows.
Help readers understand the language of synthesis that is happening in their heads as they read.
They need to pay attention to the inner conversation they are having with the text to recognize how their thinking is changing.
Teaching Point 4
Readers must notice and interact with the conversation they are having with the text while they read independently.
As readers notice this conversation, they must begin to interact with it and look to justify their thinking.
Teaching Point 5
Readers must become aware of how their thinking evolves as they continue reading and gathering new information.
Help readers discover how their thinking changes as they are recording their jots while they read.
Teaching Point 6
Readers must see this change in their thinking as the synthesis of the text that leads to a better interpretation and understanding.
So, plain and simple, guide your readers to SEE how their thinking changes throughout a text as they gather more information while reading.
They will see how their thinking evolves into something bigger because they are interpreting the details for better understanding.
Teaching Point 7
Readers must also understand that their thinking may be different than their classmates and that is okay as long as they can back their thinking with text evidence.
They must understand that each reader can interpret a text differently based on background information and the unique connections each reader can make.
Teaching Point 8
Readers extend their literal thinking to inferential thinking.
When readers see that their thinking grows and evolves over time, they must also understand that when new ideas are introduced or discovered within discussions and rereadings, their thinking may evolve even more.
When readers enter discussions and rereadings with an open mind they may be able to find a deeper understanding that will cause their thinking to evolve or even change.
This synthesis of a text will guide readers to respond with analysis either in book discussions or in longer written responses.
Teaching young readers the signals of synthesis will guide young readers to look for details to support their text interpretations.
Until next time,
The notebook inserts and student pages pictured above can be found within this collection of minilessons.