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Paraphrasing from Media

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Time Estimate

35 minutes


To give students practice in creating paraphrases and notes from visual materials.


Paraphrasing Student Document

For the visual design, you can choose something you are comfortable with, but this work is often useful.

Computer Lab Option Materials

Word processing software

Digital projector

  1. Have students watch and take notes on a short video or a visual design. Then have students work to create a paraphrase of that video or visual. Choose a set length, perhaps 75 words, so students don’t try to write too much. (15 minutes)

  2. Have students then anonymously put their paraphrases into a pile. Choose several at random and copy them either onto an overhead or onto the blackboard. (10 minutes) Several students can be enlisted to help the instructor put sentences on the blackboard. Alternatively, have students write their paraphrases directly onto a transparency.

  3. Evaluate the posted paraphrases, looking for accurate paraphrases that do not lose the original meaning. Unlike other paraphrase exercises, this one typically elicits a wide range of responses and offers instructors a chance to discuss understanding the message of the original piece. (10 minutes) Because the visual design often has no set meaning, the wide range of responses can be a moment when the class can discuss reader-response.

Computer Lab Option

The instructor can show the visual element or video to students and they can type out their notes and paraphrases on a word processing document, such as Microsoft Word.

Instead of using the chalkboard/whiteboard, use the instructor’s computer with the digital projector; students can email their documents to the instructor or post their summaries anonymously to proprietary classroom management software like Blackboard.