In Directed Paraphrasing, students create their own definition or explanation of a concept presented in class. The teacher synthesizes the collected data to check for student understanding and determine instructional effectiveness.
Students "translate" a topic, concept, or core idea using language and examples appropriate for a specific audience. For example, students might summarize key points learned during a lesson as if they were talking to a younger brother or sister; or at a higher level, they may paraphrase their understandings as if they were talking to a expert in the field.
When one has to explain something to others, one's own learning increases. Directed Paraphrasing provides an interesting, creative, and challenging way for students to summarize what they learned in their own words, use appropriate terminology, and consider how to best communicate their understanding to a specific audience. Explaining what one has learned to others, in examples and words familiar to the specific audience, provides a metacognitive opportunity for the learner to examine his or her own understanding and think about how to translate it so that others can understand. Listening to other students share their paraphrases and providing peer feedback further enhances student learning.
Listening to students paraphrase what they learned provides an opportunity for the teacher to gauge whether key points in the lesson were identified and understood by students, indicating the need for revision or additional opportunities to learn the key ideas. Listening to the ways in which students students talk about their ideas also provides the teacher with useful information about students' scientific communication skills.
- Decide on an appropriate place to break up the lesson so students can summarize what they have learned so far without interrupting the flow.
- Encourage students to individually record their ideas that summarize the lesson or part of the lesson selected before developing a paraphrase for their audience.
- Assign an audience or have students select one and challenge them to create their summary for the specific audience. Examples for audiences might include younger students, parents, students in the same class who were absent when the lesson was taught, adults with different careers, famous people, people whose work is related to the topic, or teachers in the school who teach different subject areas.
- Give time for students to think about how to put the summary into words and examples that would be appropriate for the intended audience.
- Ask them to speak or write their directed paraphrase, perhaps to another student.
- (optional) Grade the responses
- Look for patterns of clarity and confusion to guide future instruction.
Either you, or the other students may rate the paraphrase as:
Then ask them to examine and rank the responses according to the following categories on a scale of 1 to 5.
- Accuracy (of information)
- Suitability (for the intended audience)
- Effectiveness (in fulfilling the purpose)
Or you can simply, circle the clearest (best) point made by the student and underline the worst (muddiest) point.
- It may be necessary to model an example for the class the first time this is used.
- Directing the paraphrase toward a particular audience increases the cognitive demand of summarizing information.
- Make sure your students are familiar with the intended audience before asking them to translate what they learned for that audience.
Another way to use Directed Paraphrasing is to assign different audiences to small groups. Have each group come up with a Directed Paraphrase they could share with the teacher and whole class for feedback.
Assign students to partners. Designate one person in the pair to be the Speaker and one person in the pair to be the Listener. Both people will get a chance to be the Speaker.
Preparation time: 10 / Delivery time: 30