Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.
Text reconstruction. Sounds serious, right? Like building a major structure. In many ways, it's similar to building a house.
Before we get into all of that, let's back up a bit. First, you have to acknowledge the role of reading comprehension. Many students will read something and never truly understand what it is they have read.
Reading comprehension is the ability to read a text, process it, and understand the meaning of it. Many students can do the first step, but struggle with the other two. What's the point of reading anything if you can't understand what it means?
The rest of this lesson will focus on an important comprehension skill: text reconstruction.
Text Reconstruction & Retelling
Text reconstruction is the ability to retell, summarize, or build a text in the proper sequence. Comprehension and reconstruction go hand in hand, since reconstructing a text will show your comprehension of it.
Think about some of the stories you've read. What makes the beginning different from the end? For an article, what makes the introduction different from the conclusion? A main idea different from a supporting detail? In order to answer these questions, you need the skills to reconstruct a text.
Text reconstruction can also be known as retelling, which is putting the text into your own words. To do this, read one paragraph at a time. Then pause and think of one sentence to summarize that paragraph. Then move on to the next paragraph and do the same process. Continue until you have read the whole text. When you finish, you will have a concise retelling.
How to Reconstruct a Text
However, text reconstruction is often more than a retelling. Imagine you are given a set of sentences or paragraphs that are out of order. How do you reconstruct them to the proper order? Think back to the metaphor of building a house. Does it make sense to build the roof first? Should we construct the walls before the floor? Of course the answer to these questions is no. Logically, we have to first build the foundation and floors of a house before we can build walls and a roof.
The same goes for a piece of writing. Authors must establish certain ideas before going into other details. To reconstruct a text, you have to make inferences, which are deductions based on evidence and reasoning. You use these inferences to determine the sequence of events.
Sequence of Events
So how do you make inferences? Look over the text that is given to you. First, determine what sentence or paragraph is the beginning, since it's usually easy to spot. In a story, the characters, setting, and conflict will be introduced. In an essay, the author's main argument will be stated. In an article, the topic and information covered in the rest of the article will be stated.
Next, find the end, which is also easily recognizable. In any form of writing, the end closes the piece. In a story, you find out if the characters will live happily ever after or not. In an essay, the author will summarize the argument. In an article, the topic will be brought to some sort of close.
The last piece is to determine the order of whatever is left, which will be the middle. To help with this, look for transition words, which connect ideas and indicate sequence. Here are some examples.
- First, second, third
- Then, next, finally
- Also, furthermore, overall
- However, nevertheless, on the other hand
All of these examples indicate some sort of organization. Use them to help you rebuild the proper order for the middle of the text. This procedure will work if you need to organize both sentences and paragraphs. However, with paragraphs, there will be transitional sentences that will connect other sentences. Keep an eye out for these, as well.
Main Ideas vs. Details
A final strategy for reconstruction is to look at main ideas and details. Main ideas express an overall thought, and supporting details give evidence or support for an idea. For example, a main idea could be 'recycling is good for our planet.' A supporting detail would be a statistic that shows how many trees can be saved by recycling paper. When reconstructing a text, main ideas appear first, with logical supporting details immediately following.
Along these same lines, one main idea should logically link to the next. Let's return to the recycling idea. If there was another main idea about reducing pollution, look for how these ideas are linked. This will lead to reconstructing the text.
To review, reading comprehension is the ability to read a text, process it, and understand the meaning of it. One skill to show comprehension is text reconstruction, which is the ability to retell, summarize, or build a text in the proper sequence. Text reconstruction can also be known as retelling, which is putting the text into your own words. To do this, read a paragraph at a time and come up with your own sentence to express the main idea of that paragraph.
Text reconstruction can also involve putting sentences or paragraphs back in the proper order. In order to do so, make inferences, which are deductions based on evidence and reasoning, about the sequences of events. In addition, find main ideas, or overall thoughts, and supporting details, or evidence to support an idea. Main ideas come first, with supporting details following after. Look for transition words, which connect ideas and indicate sequence, or sentences to help you figure out the order of supporting details. Use the strategies for determining the sequence of events and linking ideas to properly reconstruct a text.
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