Around this time of year, you may be in test prep mode and your students are getting antsy.  Plus it’s later in the year, so you need some engaging lessons to keep your kids writing.  We all know how important it is to keep your writing lessons engaging throughout the entire year, but it is especially true before and after spring break. ?

 Today, I’d like to share with you my favorite quick + easy strategy to teach students how to paraphrase. I’m pretty sure there is never a time that students don’t need this lesson. Paraphrasing is tricky. But this lesson is sure to get your kids talking, writing, and, of course – paraphrasing.

You can click the video above or read below.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A text
  • Something specific you want students to paraphrase (use a science or social studies
  • topic if you don’t already have something- use your textbook, article you printed, etc.)
  • Another way to make this engaging would be to show a video
  • Large Post-its or just use your writing notebook, chart paper (I love the post-its because the novelty gets students engaged and excited.)
  • Students should be set up in partnership.

This is a lesson that is more interactive rather than you explicitly teaching.  You could make it a mini lesson by first modeling, or you can use the activity to explain it.

The Lesson

Tell students that they are going to read the text to find out  ______.  For example, my students were writing in response to a prompt that asked, “Would a bike sharing program work in my community?”  It would be really important to explain what the bike sharing program is and how it works because when you say bike sharing program – no one really knows what that is unless it already exists in their community.  As a writer, we are teachers and clarity is quite possibly the most important part of your writing.

Set students up with what to expect:

  1. Read the text
  2. Flip the text over – don’t look at it while you are writing.
  3. Talk out loud with your partner what the text says.
  4. Write with your partner to explain what a _______ (bike sharing program) is.

Set students up to know exactly what they will do.  Set a timer for them to read over the text. This may not be necessary – but a timer is my best friend in teaching. After they have finished reading, tell them to flip over their paper and …Go! Talk about what _______ is with their partner.   As soon as they are finished talking, pick up their pencil, and write out what they just said.


And that’s it! After students have finished this activity, you can display their work on a chart or showcase it in your room.

The chart in the video comes from the following Writing Units.

Opinion Writing Unit          Informational Writing Unit

Happy Writing Wednesday! If you’ve got something else you’d like me to cover, send me an email at or comment below. I love supporting teachers like you!

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Lead Box #3

Talk soon!