Monday, November 11, 2013

Guest Post Bethany Hunter: Synthesizing

When I first started teaching, I assumed a lot of things about my students. I assumed my students knew how to visualize while they read. I assumed they naturally predicted as they read. It didn't take me long, however, to realize I couldn't assume anything when I taught.

Synthesizing quickly became one of my favorite reading strategies to teach. When I introduce synthesizing I normally start off by asking my students if they have ever read a book or watched a movie where, half way through it, they just "knew" what was going to happen. Then as they continued to watch or read they changed their mind. Most of my kiddos can think of a book or movie, so we spend a few minutes talking as a class about our examples. I then create this anchor chart with my class:
Once we know what synthesizing is, it is time to practice it. I ask my students to grab two post-it-notes and I share a mentor text with them.

Here are a few of my favorite mentor texts to teach synthesizing. All of them have clear story lines that you can use to help teach your students how to synthesize.
Charlie Anderson
Charlie Anderson by Barbara Abercrombie starts with a cat who shows up one day at a families home. I ask my kids to write down where they think the cat came the story continues they learn this little cat has two homes.
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg starts out with a stranger being hit by a car. I ask my students who they think the stranger this story continues they are able to synthesize and infer that the stranger is Jack Frost.

The Wednesday Surprise 
The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting is about a little girl and her grandmother. The story makes it seem as if the grandmother is helping the granddaughter learn to the story continues the children learn it is the other way around.

With all of the mentor texts, I share part of the story and have them jot down what they think on the first post-it-note. Then as I finish the story, the students jot down what they know on the second post-it-note. The students put their post-its on the anchor chart before they move to their "comfy" reading spots. Here is an example of our thinking after reading The Stranger:

To help my students stay on track when they read independently I give them a bookmark I created.
I also give my students a graphic organizer to help them record their thinking. You can pick them up by clicking here.
I have found that having my students track their thinking as they read helps them become stronger readers. It also helps me be more on-purpose as a teacher when I conference with my students. I hope these book suggestions and organizers help your students become stronger readers as well! 

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  1. Great post, Bethanny! I love Wednesday Surprise. It's fun to hear all of the guessing the kids do about the surprise :-)


    1. Thanks Sarah! Eve Bunting is such a wonderful kids love her stuff.


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