by: Patricia A. Gallo
English Instructor
Delaware Technical Community College

I am always amazed at how many students think that paraphrasing is taking the end of a sentence and moving it to the beginning or hitting shift F7 to access the thesaurus on Word. Even after my presentations on “Effective Steps to Paraphrasing” and “Patch-writing is not Paraphrasing” they are still not getting it.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I gave the students a paragraph from the English 102 Supplemental Guide (1989) by Kathleen Yancey (can also be found on the Purdue OWL site). In class, they were to read it, type their paraphrased version, and email it to me.
  2. I created a Word document of all the emailed paraphrases (minus student names). I uploaded these to Google Docs and added all the students in the class as editors.
  3. Next class, they opened the Google Doc and got to work as editors.

The obvious benefit was to get feedback on their own paraphrase. However, I wanted them to see how well others did, or did not do, when paraphrasing. It made for some interesting discussions while they were editing. They did not have to disclose which paraphrase was theirs (although it was obvious since they did not edit their own paraphrase!).  We went over them together so I could comment on the comments. I was able to cover grammar and proper paraphrasing in one lesson.

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