Utilizing Text to Construct Meaning

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  • 00:00 Constructing Meaning
  • 00:34 Paraphrasing
  • 1:16 Making Connections
  • 1:53 Visualizing
  • 2:26 Asking Questions &…
  • 3:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

Learning to construct meaning is an important part of the reading process. This lessons discusses how things like visualizing, paraphrasing, asking questions, and making connections can aid in the constructing meaning process.

Constructing Meaning

Sounding out words, like 'cat' and 'dog,' is only part of the process of learning to read. The road to true literacy also includes the ability to construct meaning. Novice readers must be taught to decipher and understand the meaning behind the words being read. In today's lesson, we'll take a look at how readers can use text to construct meaning. We'll specifically highlight paraphrasing, making connections, visualizing, questioning, and making inferences.


Paraphrasing is the act of retelling a text in your own words. It is a great way to use text to construct meaning because it requires a reader to choose the important details, ideas, and series of events that are essential to convey the intent of a text. When paraphrasing, a reader is forced to grapple with the text. They must distinguish between what is necessary and what is not necessary to convey its meaning.

For example, if you paraphrased the story of Snow White and left out her rosy cheeks, there is no harm no foul. However, if you left out that the evil queen was jealous of her and tried to kill her, then you'd really have messed with the story line.

Making Connections

Another way a reader can construct meaning from text is to connect their background knowledge to the text. Known simply as making connections, this strategy sees a reader using their prior knowledge and experiences as a way to interpret what they are reading. Going back to lovely Snow White and the evil queen, a teacher introducing the tale might start by asking her students if they've ever been jealous of someone. If so, how did this make them feel and how did they handle it? Questions like these will allow students to make connections between what they already know and the meaning of the text.


Another way to use text to construct meaning is through visualizing. When visualizing, readers are prompted to use the text to create mental images of what they are reading. Visualizing requires a reader to break down the text and then rebuild it. Sort of like purposeful day dreaming, envisioning what is being read is a great way to make its meaning stick. Case in point, even if it's been years since we've read or seen it, I'm guessing almost all of us can close our eyes and picture at least one of Snow's seven dwarfs.

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