Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Synthesis Part Deux: Next Steps

Here they are, my lovely ladies! They have been working synthesis magic in my classroom over the last week. We've been really digging in to what it means to synthesize by using our schema and questioning to examine our changes in thinking. {See my last post if you missed it!} I've been brainstorming where to go next in this inquiry into synthesis, and after talking with a teammate today I think I've got it mapped out. But you know how it laid plans of mice and men and whatnot...

So this is a look at where we've been. As I mentioned, we're reading Sharks by Seymour Simon and focusing on the thinking strategies of schema and questioning to synthesize important ideas. {Sorry it's a little blurry!} I modeled the beginning pieces during a think aloud to show how readers use schema to ask questions about the text. Then, further down the road gave over control to my kiddos and recorded their thinking on our anchor chart. As you can see, they were very curious about the number of gills sharks have versus their fish counterparts! {Lots of inferring going on here, too!}

After finishing the interactive read aloud, I had my students reflect on their thinking by looking back over our text and response charts (ours and their own) to look for changes in their thinking. Then, I brought out our synthesis thinking stems and modeled how my own thinking changed based on information I gathered from the text. The kiddos wrote their own synthesis responses by choosing a thinking stem shown here and explaining a change in their thinking and justifying the reason why it changed based on evidence {oh common core how I love thee}.

And cue the next scene. One of the goals in this unit of study is for my students to be able to synthesize across texts and determine common main ideas and themes in expository texts while citing evidence to justify their thinking {whew!}. So, after brainstorming with my teammate over lunch today {when else do you get to collaborate?! pass the salt please} I had an ah-ha moment!

We've delved in to Determining Importance in expository texts already in this unit, but it bears repeating {white stripes anyone?}. Tomorrow we are going to go back to the parts of the text we read in Sharks with the eye of determining importance to evaluate details and decide if they are truly important, or simply details the author gave to keep our interest. We'll focus on the use of our thinking stems for determining importance, which will lead us to discover the...

I found an anchor chart on pinterest that I loved for main idea, and tweaked it to fit my needs. {If it's your original idea, thank you!!}
I added a few key ideas for after reading, including determining the text structure as well as the author's purpose and perspective.

By examining the text structure and author's perspective, examining important key details, and synthesizing information from various sources in and around the text, we'll be able to determine the text's main idea. {See my post about text structure here}

Next steps...

  • determine main idea in one text using synthesis of ideas and evidence
  • determine theme in expository text based upon main idea and author's perspective
  • compare main idea and themes across texts 
  • determine a common main idea and theme across texts

[Synthesis] is about valuing the process of our thinking, becoming reflective thinkers, remembering where we came from and where we're going. It's about keeping the change. 
- Tanny McGregor, Comprehension Connections


  1. Hi!! We just found you through Fifth in the Middle's blog by state linky! We're Florida girls too! So happy to have found you!
    -Jackie and Danielle-
    Sister Teachers

  2. Hi Lindsay!!
    I'm beginning to gather contact information from all of the Florida bloggers out there for a possible bloggy meet up this summer! If you'd like to be included, please email me back at .
    We'd love for you to be a part of this fun time!!
    Sister Teachers