Teacher Prep: To prepare for day three I take the main ideas that I have previously identified for each paragraph and turn them into a twenty-word summary or gist. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that I haven’t actually done this aspect of preparation work in years! I am confident in this formula and know that the students will create something marvelous on their own and my effort to prepare for this isn’t really needed. Then again, if you are nervous and feel like allowing this process to be student driven is a stretch for you feel free to build your own confidence in the process by preparing a twenty-word gist for each paragraph ahead of time! Remember that your work will not be shared with the students, unless you throw out a small piece of one here or there just to help them get unstuck. The only other thing that needs to be done on day three is to provide the students with a few pieces of paper!
Day three of the formula also begins with a quick read to get the flow of the chosen text. Next, on a scratch piece of paper, or white boards, we record all of the words we have identified from paragraph one as main ideas. We fiddle with the words and mix them up here or there and attempt to compose a twenty-word sentence that captures the essence or gist of the paragraph. I always tell the students to mush all of the words together and create a sentence. Then they need to count the words within the sentence and give themselves a starting point. Sometimes they need to add a few words; other times they need to take some away. The key is to keep the main idea pure! Making sure all of the thoughts underlined are somehow included in the gist, even if they are not included verbatim.
The students love this process and adore the link between taking what they have identified and creating a paraphrase. It is magical for them to see that an idea found within multiple sentences can be fully captured in only one. It is a powerful process and builds their comprehension, grammar, summarizing, and confidence. Yes! I do this with grades as low as first. Granted, I typically act as scribes as we share write a twenty-word gist for each paragraph together.
Identical to the first two days, with upper grades I model the first paragraph, scaffold the second and have them work in small groups for the rest. In lower grades, we often share write and work as a whole group. But, we ALWAYS individually record our work and regroup after each paragraph to share our sentences, compare our sentences, and alter our sentences if needed.