Paraphrase this!

Today we continued working on paraphrasing text. The point is to read text, comprehend it, and then take evidence from a text to use in written answers.

Today we began reading short sections of nonfiction text discussing tap water. We went through our paraphrasing guidelines (pictured below), numbered the sentences in the section, and then orally rehearsed how we would paraphrase a single sentence.

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I shared with students sample paraphrased sentences, and we compared them to the text to see if they were adequately different.

Students quickly realized paraphrasing is harder than it seems. We heard accidental plagiarism several times during oral rehearsal.

Here is the first section of the text:

Tap Water Is Safer Than You Think

(1) Although the taste (and even appearance) may make you believe otherwise, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the U.S. has the safest drinking water supply in the world. (2) More than 286 million Americans get their water from a community water system. (3) These systems are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which means that they have to meet strict safety standards. (4) No matter where you live in the U.S., the tap water supply is safe according to EPA regulations.

Here are the paraphrased exemplar sentences I shared with students and that we discussed. Note sentences are numbered so you can see the original and paraphrased version.

(1) People in America might think tap water is bad for you. (2) But the U.S. has the safest drinking water in the world says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Community water systems” provide water for most Americans. (3)  To make sure water is safe to drink, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors water agencies. (4) The EPA says all tap water in the United States is safe to drink.

Tonight, students need to paraphrase the next two sections of text-a total of 6 sentences.

PLEASE read your child’s paraphrased sentence and compare it to the original text tonight. Is it different? Did they try to use a different verb? Did they try to switch the subject-verb? Did they use their own words? Or did they borrow heavily using quotes or accidentally plagiarize the text?


Paraphrasing and summarizing!

We are working on how to summarize, paraphrase, and quote text as evidence in class so as to avoid plagiarism. This is a life-long skill students will continue to hone through college and beyond. 🙂

We’re using our science text to do this currently

I’ve added a drop down page under “Curriculum” and under “Writing” called “Summary/Paraphrase.” Today we reviewed what it means to paraphrase. We rehearsed orally. I shared an example of a paraphrase from the previous section of the lesson we had read. We compared the writing to the text to make sure I hadn’t copied word-for-word any of the text.

You can view the exemplar paraphrase below:

Lesson 1 Earth the Blue Planet: Summary prompt for pages 180-181: Describe the Earth’s oceans.

The Earth has 5 oceans: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, and Southern Ocean. Oceans are large, salty bodies of water that flow uninterrupted around our planet but are separated by bodies of land called continents. About 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans.

While all oceans are filled with salt water, they do have some differences. One difference is oceans vary in terms of their temperature. Another difference is that some oceans are saltier than others. Yet another difference between the Earth’s oceans is that not all are the same size or depth. The Pacific is the largest and deepest ocean in the world. The Pacific covers 60 million square miles. That’s like placing 60 million squares that are a mile long by a mile wide over the Earth’s surface. If you went to the bottom of the Pacific near the Philippine Islands, you’d dive 36,198 feet deep! The second largest Ocean is the Atlantic followed by the Indian Ocean. The next biggest ocean is the Southern Ocean, and the smallest is the Arctic Ocean.  

All oceans provide resources. Resources are things we use. For example, we drill for oil and natural gas from beneath the ocean. We use oil to make gasoline and use natural gas to heat homes or cook with. We catch food to eat from oceans such as fish, crabs, squid, or seaweed. Cargo ships use oceans to transport things around the planet. We even use oceans for recreational activities such as swimming or scuba diving.


After comparing an exemplar to the text, we jumped in, reading pages 182-183 of our science text and paraphrasing the key ideas.

We analyzed the pages and determined there were three main ideas discussed:

  1. Three ways salt gets into the ocean
  2. How evaporation affects the saltiness of the oceans
  3. How salt is or is not affected by evaporation.

Here is the handout students were given to assist with paraphrasing the text.

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Tonight students need to finish paraphrasing pages 182-183 of their text. PLEASE read their paraphrasing and compare it to the text to make sure they’re not accidentally plagiarizing. It’s VERY easy to do this. It’s human to want to get the idea just right. Encourage your child to use their own words. Switch that subject-verb arrangement. Use a different verb. Leave out some of the details but include the main ideas.

A summary or paraphrase should NEVER be as long as the original text. If your child seems to be rewriting the lesson, stop them and review with them the guidelines above.

This is new. This is a hard skill. They will get it. I was impressed by their work today. This class is REALLY making a LOT of progress! 🙂