Toward the end of the semester my writing class works on summary paragraphs. One of the challenges of writing a summary paragraph is paraphrasing. In order to paraphrase successfully, the writer needs to convey the correct meaning of the original without plagiarizing. This is especially difficult for students who are still developing their English language skills. For the last few semesters, I have been using a PowerPoint presentation with paraphrasing exercises created by Professor Jean Van Meter of Montgomery College in Germantown, Maryland. Slide one starts with the words reading, thinking, understanding, and rewriting. The first time I viewed this slide, I had the feeling I was about to see something good. This first slide gives me the opportunity to remind my students that paraphrasing it not piece by piece work. A successful paraphrase is not a puzzle with tiny parts that you arrange. In order to paraphrase well, you must truly think about what you are reading and understand it. The rest of the presentaion is a series of quotations. Each quotation is followed with wh-questions. These questions are presented one at a time, and after each question the key words used to answer the question are highlighted in the text. This step by step approach is extremely helpful, and students can use this same process later when they paraphrase without the help of their instructor.
In order to help students activate their schema before reading the quotations, I added some images and prereading questions to the orignal presentation. When I asked Professor Van Meter if I could share her presentation with the readers of this blog, she very kindly said yes. The link is