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Synthesis is the combination of ideas into a whole. While reading, we often stop and evaluate our understanding of the text as the pieces of the story (or bits of information in a non-fiction text) start to take shape. That part of synthesis happens along the way, but a full conceptualization of the text happens at the end of the reading. In many English classes, this can take the form of a retelling or a summary. However, using Bloom’s taxonomy, higher-order synthesis comes from an extension of student thinking. Example actions would be to create, compose, design, propose, formulate, etc.
According to the Ohio Resource Center, the process of synthesizing “aids reading comprehension because it requires students to put the new material into their own words and combine it with their prior knowledge. This makes it more likely that they will remember the information and transfer it to new situations, which further reinforces the information.”
Other links on Synthesis: Ideas and info from Liketoread.com and lesson ideas from Readinglady.com.
Figuring out the plot of a story is part of the joy of reading. Readers naturally make predictions while reading because we wonder what is going to happen next. Those predictions are proven right or wrong by the time we finish reading.
Inferring takes that a step further. A proficient reader is able to make a guess or draw conclusions about a text based on what he/she has read. An inference is an “evidence-based guess” (see Reading Resources: Inferences).
Why is this strategy important? Most authors don’t come right out and tell the readers everything they need to know. If they did, the reading wouldn’t be very interesting. They often use their descriptions of characters, places, etc. to help the readers infer central ideas. For example, an author might not come right out and say a character is brave, but will show bravery in that character’s actions. It is up to the reader to glean that information for him/herself. When making an inference, the reader uses his/her background knowledge along with his/her understanding of the text to try to understand ideas that author has left out. This process helps the reader better understand word meanings, the author’s purpose, and the text in general.
Find some more resources for inferencing: LiketoRead.com and Ohiorc.org, or view an interesting PowerPoint on the differences between Inferences and Predictions.
It may seem to be common sense, but an important strategy to read proficiently is to determine which information in a text is important and what is not. Most critical is to first distinguish the differences between fiction and nonfiction. When reading fiction, the reader needs to follow the plot line and use his/her knowledge of text features and literary elements in order to understand the story’s organization and make predictions and/or connections. It is generally easier to extract important details from fiction texts.
When reading nonfiction, it is somewhat more difficult to discern important and unimportant information. Sometimes every sentence of a nonfiction or informational piece contains new information! A reader, then, needs to focus on the main ideas and understand the features and organization of the text so that those key ideas are more evident.
(Adapted from Debbie Miller’s Reading for Meaning)
With any text type, graphic organizers are useful for determining and organizing important information. Webs, charts, diagrams, etc. make it easier to display key ideas and the details that support them.
Some sources for determining importance: Ohio Resource Center Reading Strategies; Liketoread.com