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How do you prepare students to synthesize when reading off a screen?

March 24, 2020

Once the basics of a synthesizing from multiple sources is mastered, taking students to other mediums can prove challenging. But the next growth step is for students to read from a screen, recognizing new big ideas, and pooling details from multiple sources.

Use scratch paper

The most important element in getting kids ready to read off a screen and synthesize information from multiple sources is to get students to use scratch paper. While digital annotation is possible and we have access to universal or global notes and kids can type on a screen on a separate notepad, switching between screens is too much.

Instead, consider that when students are juggling multiple texts, they can only see one screen at a time. When they have to move to another screen to type in notes, they lose track and the text gets shifted when switching from screen to screen. Instead, make sure that when kids are reading and taking notes that the document never moves. Provide each student with scratch paper.

Start with one text

Introduce the first text to students and organize the details using a grocery list. Any thoughts they have from their Thinking Voice, they can put in parentheses after the fact bullets. Once these are all jotted down, have students draw a line.

Introduce the next text(s)

Next, have students read the next source and then repeat this process, listing details and adding annotations in parentheses. As new texts are introduced, remind students to only write down new and different information from previous sources. Don’t repeat information as we don’t want to wade through repetitive notes.

Pre-write the synthesis

Once students have read all of the sources, they can now review their notes from their scratch paper and work on pre-writing the synthesis. The lists of details on the scratch paper reminds them which details came from which source, making organization easier when it’s time to write.

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