So how do I introduce synthesizing? I start by telling students what synthesizing is, using this poster. Click on the images to print your own copy for free.
Then I take out my Nesting Dolls (I found mine at World Market) to help me model synthesizing. They are the perfect way to model since synthesizing is about peeling back the layers to dig deeper in your understanding. You could use an onion, but that just wouldn't provide a very nice aroma!
My favorite book to use for synthesizing is Zen Shorts. As you can see from our chart, most students think "shorts" is referring to the shorts that the panda is wearing on the cover. Then as we begin to read, the students realize that the book is actually about a panda who share tales of Zen with three children, each with a different lesson to be learned. The chart that we created really enabled students to see and understand the process of synthesizing.
You'll notice that I have adorable nesting dolls along the sides of my chart. I found this wonderful resource from One Extra Degree. You can click on the picture below to see this resource in her store. I laminated a number of sets so that students can use them with their reading during independent practice as well. The set also includes think cards (as seen on the right hand side of my chart) and graphic organizers. I use this resource ALL the time!
|One Extra Degree|
After I've modeled synthesizing with Zen Shorts, we then do a guided practice with the wonderful story Emma Kate by Patricia Polacco. If you do not have this book in your collection, add it to your shopping list because it lends itself beautifully to a number of different skills and strategies and students LOVE it! For notes and a graphic organizer, I use The First Grade Parade's Synthesis Superhero charts, which are free on her blog. We take a long time to discuss the story, page by page, and when we finish, we talk about how are thinking changed. Many students think that Emma Kate is a little girl with an imaginary elephant friend, but there's a twist at the end of the story! It's a great way to discuss how their thinking changed.
Click the picture below to be taken to the link that includes the free Synthesis Superhero resources from
|The First Grade Parade|
Now, of course, I teach fifth so these are simply introductory lessons. Students learn about synthesizing in these first few days, and then we carry it in to guided reading rotations for a week with an on-level chapter book. After a week or two of practice in guided reading, it becomes a part of their independent reading rotation. Students complete independent reading logs that are focused on synthesizing. These logs are a part of my Independent Reading Logs. To see them in my store, you can click on the picture below.