Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Synthesis and Writing from Sources

On Tuesday I had the privilege of presenting a workshop about synthesis and writing from sources for my colleagues. We gathered around tiny kindergarten tables in the quiet school to share stories, information, and ideas. What fun!

I've been intrigued by the role of synthesis in student learning for a long time. How do we synthesize? How can we help students bridge ideas between topics and texts? Not only is synthesis required for writing from sources, but it is also the whole point of what we are doing in the classroom. Students will take the pieces of what we give them and what they gather to create something entirely new.

I decided to track down some of the key processes for synthesis. (Of course, gathering information, reading texts, and putting together the ideas into something new is synthesis. So meta!) Here is the first part of the presentation:

So, what do you think?

-Which of the skills of connecting, organizing, and selecting do you see as most difficult for your students?
-How does this help you to plan for successful writing from sources?

In the next part, I'll share some low-stakes classroom activities to build up these key skills. These engaging activities help to build a culture of synthesis in the classroom--and will make the task of writing from sources much more friendly for students.

-If you're looking for an easy-to-implement writing from sources task, try this Under the Sea nonfiction text set. A synthesis task is included. Introduction to Text Structure could also be used for writing from sources tasks.
-September Reading Homework is revised and ready for the new school year!
-Daily Sentence Writing 1 and Daily Sentence Writing 2 are both complete.

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