Synthesizing is one of the more difficult reading comprehension strategies to teach. This higher-level type of thinking occurs when students combine their own schema with information from the text to create a new level of understanding. This ongoing process takes place as a reader’s thinking is changed as he/she learns and grows.
Synthesizing often occurs with longer pieces of literature, like chapter books, but it can also be modeled using picture books.
Here is the sentence frame I like to use for synthesizing:
At first I was thinking …
Then I was thinking …
Now I am thinking …
This set of sentence starters helps students to see the progression of how their own thinking changes as they get new information from the text.
One reading tip I like to share with students is to stop every now and then to think about their reading (being metacognitive) and to notice how their thinking has changed since they started the story, or since they paused to think the last time.
The books listed below have interesting and thought provoking stories your students will enjoy!
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Fables by Arnold Lobel is a collection of twenty fables, each one occupying one page and accompanied by sweet illustrations.
2. The Adventures of Beeckle: The Unimaginary Friend
The Adventures of Beeckle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat is a fun tale of an imaginary friend in search of a child.
3. Emma Kate
Emma Kate by Patricia Polacco is about young girl named Emma Kate’s imaginary friend and how they love to do just about everything together.
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran is about an imaginary town created by a little girl, her sisters, and her friends.
5. The Stranger
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg tells the mysterious story of a stranger who has no memory of who he is or where he’s from.
6. Martin and Anne
Martin and Anne by Nancy Churbib tells about the parallel journeys both Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. experienced in their journey to find hope even during difficult times.
7. Finding Winnie
Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick tells the true story of the bear who was the ultimate inspiration for Winne-the-Pooh.
8. The Junkyard Wonders
The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco is about a young girl who moves to new school in search of a fresh start so that no one will know her as a “special” student.
9. Seeds and Trees
Seeds and Trees by Brandon Walden is a beautiful picture book about a young prince who faithfully pants and grows the seeds others give him.
Here are a few more synthesizing mentor texts:
Thunder Underground by Jane Yolen (poems)
Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens
Salt in His Shoes by Deloris Jordan and Roslyn Jordan
If you’re looking for reading resources to help teach about synthesizing, this one might help! The Launching Reading Workshop unit includes an entire month’s worth of mini-lessons as well as an entire year’s worth of framework or supporting materials for Reading Workshop. The first two weeks are about routines and expectations and the second two weeks are all about reading comprehension strategies. “Synthesizing” is one of the 10 key reading comprehension strategy mini-lessons. There are also anchor charts and graphic organizers about synthesizing too!
CLICK HERE to find out more about the Launching Reading Workshop unit.
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