Paraphrasing versus Summarizing

Making students truly understand the difference between summarizing (as establishing the essence, the key messages of a text) and paraphrasing (as rewording someone’s ideas, or arguments into ones own words), is rather difficult. So I needed some help, and recruited YouTube.

Before I delved into explaining differences between summarizing and paraphrasing, I made the students watch the video above and asked to summarize. The students took between 5-7 minutes for this exercise. They came up with strong examples of description, analysis and paraphrasing of text but not with a summary. Which was exactly the point of the exercise. This music video clip is so full of symbolism that my students had no chance to actually summarize it, unless they had an in depth understanding of said symbolism.

The exercise aimed to make clear to the students that being able to summarize an article or someone’s text they need an in depth understanding of this text. I thought of this exercise because most UG students I work with have an issue understanding why they should summarize or paraphrase at all, and not just simply use direct quotes. So I needed to demonstrate to the students how difficult it is to summarize or paraphrase when this understanding is lacking.

The exercise was combined with a prezi presentation and Google document with example paraphrasing and summarizing text.

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