Creativity Drills - Complete Paraphrase

What is a "Complete Paraphrase" scenario?

This is an exercise where students must re-state a simple statement using new wording.

This activity will allow students to prove their grasp of basic content by demonstrating that they can state it in their own words.  This may prove difficult, as students often get in the habit of repeating definitions, facts, and figures, without ever actually taking ownership of the content.

What do "Complete Paraphrase" exercises look like in the classroom?

Of course, there will be very few times when you want your students to say "A lion is a predator" in as many different ways as they can. Instead, you`ll want to cater these problems to the subject matter at hand.  We`ve already written a wide-selection of "Complete Paraphrase" exercises organized by topic, and they`ll be easy to create on your own once you grasp the concept. 

For example, if you are teaching about the Cold War Era, you may use this famous John F. Kennedy quote as your "Complete Paraphrase" exercise"Ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country."

Your students can paraphrase this quote in a number of ways.  For example:

  • "Don’t ask for things from your country; instead, give your services to the country."
  • "Instead of asking your government for a hand-out, ask what you can do to improve this country."
  • "You should give of yourself to your country by making the most of your abilities, knowledge, and work habits."

Do "Complete Paraphrase" exercises work for all subject areas and grade levels?

Yes.  Without a doubt... yes!  The "Complete Paraphrase" exercises can not only be used in multiple subject areas, but also for the many topics within a given subject area.  We have already provided a wide range of "Complete Paraphrase" exercises in the core subjects, and these can easily be used as a model for teachers who want to write their own to fit their classroom.

The same flexibility applies to using "Complete Paraphrase" exercises across grade levels.  What is especially interesting in this case is that the same "Complete Paraphrase" exercise could easily be used for a kindergartner or a senior in high school... and each student would benefit greatly from the exercise. 

Let`s use this one for an example:  "Paraphrase this statement - `Scarcity forces individuals and families to make choices.`"  A teacher might ask this to a group of kindergartners first learning about supply and demand, hoping to hear basic statements like "You can`t have everything" or "There is only so much to go around." At the other end of the spectrum, a high-school teacher will expect students to demonstrate a full understanding of the subject and repeat the statement in a way similar to this:  "When things are in short supply, this will increase costs.  Families living on a fixed income will have to budget for these items, or spend their money on other goods."

What`s the one thing to remember about "Complete Paraphrase" exercises?

It`s all about the process.  Students can often "trick" us into thinking they understand a concept simply because they are able to recall facts, figures, definitions, or quotations.  "Complete Paraphrase" exercises force students to take ownership of the information by retelling it in their own words, even if it is not as succinct or elegant as the original.