Teaching Students to Write a Synthesis Essay

Writing instruction is challenging, yet rewarding.  Synthesis, an important common core skill, occurs when several sources are used and evaluated.  This typically occurs in expository writing where researched sources are brought together to prove a thesis statement or answer an inquiry question.  After reading to understand different sources and arguments, students often struggle with bringing them all together.  I tell students to imagine this process as a dinner table conversation:

Imagine you’ve just invited several different authors over to your house to discuss their ideas on a topic.  What perspectives would be represented?  What evidence would each one bring to the table?  How would they interact with and respond to each other.  And, overall, what would your voice say as you enter this conversation?  

This way of framing source synthesis makes it seem less intimidating and more accessible.  It also shows the value of each “voice” or source in the discussion and teaches students that they aren’t discussing each source in isolation – there is a larger purpose to their writing, a “big picture” to consider.

Here is an effective structure for students to use for synthesis writing.  Feel free to share on social media and check out this FREE expanded guide for synthesis writing.

Synthesis Writing

 

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