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Paraphrasing: The Literacy Hero We Should All Care About

Kristin Van Gompel
Kristin Van Gompel
Senior Curriculum Specialist






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Sure, paraphrasing is an essential skill that we as educators teach as part of our writing curriculum...but does this jam-packed literacy skill really get the praise it deserves?

Here are the top 5 reasons this literacy skill truly is our hero:

  • Paraphrasing text from a reliable source is a leading strategy for incorporating evidence into writing. Want to add credibility and strengthen writing? Then practicing this literacy skill is a must!
  • Learning about paraphrasing helps writers to understand their ethical responsibility as a writer. For example, writers learn that when paraphrasing ideas from another source they must give credit to the original author by accurately citing the source in the essay and in the reference list.
  • Along with including direct quotations, paraphrasing (with proper citations, of course) helps students avoid plagiarism. For teachers interested in checking the development of their students’ paraphrasing skills, they can review their work in Turnitin Feedback Studio.
  • Paraphrasing is just as fundamental to reading as it is to writing. Want to gauge if students comprehend what they’ve read? Ask them to paraphrase!
  • Teaching students paraphrasing skills supports a wide range of academic standards for reading and writing. With all the standards educators are juggling these days, it is important to acknowledge that this unsung hero is recognized across many frameworks.

What Educators Say

We asked educators from around the country about their experiences with paraphrasing instruction and here’s what they had to say:

"Out of all the writing and reading skills my students struggle with, paraphrasing is at the top of the list.” (Lisa LaBrake, ELA teacher, Sweet Home High School, New York)

“When students are first learning to incorporate evidence in their essay, they often string together a series of quotes, often not properly attributed and not related to their topic.”(Ami Szerencse, English teacher, Schurr High School, California)

“Students grasp the concept of quoting word-for-word rather quickly, but paraphrasing the words of others is a significant challenge. Students either use 2-3 of the author's words, which we understand is quoting, or they easily slip into constant summary without proper citation. Having effective and scaffolded resources to support instruction would help students understand how to paraphrase to support an argument as effectively and readily as with a direct quote." (Marina Amador, MA C&I, ELA and Electives Teacher, CNUSD Hybrid School of Innovation, California)

Teaching Paraphrasing in Classrooms

Although paraphrasing is essential to reading and writing, helping students master this skill may prove to be challenging. In an effort to support educators in crafting paraphrasing skills, our Turnitin curriculum team brainstormed several resources that we wish we had in our classrooms.

The result?

The Paraphrasing Pack.

This pack consists of eleven out-of-the-box resources that are ready to be implemented in the classroom. These resources were flexibly designed, allowing teachers to conduct activities individually or build upon one another as a complete unit. The pack is adaptable for any 6th - 12th-grade classroom.