Summarizing: Getting to the point

Authors: Khalid Smith, Nicole
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Introduction

Summarizing is a critical skill for college and career readiness, but rarely does a particular lesson explicitly teach the skill. Learning to take a reading selection and sum it up in a short paragraph or sentence helps readers better understand the main idea of what they read.

Procedure

Introduce the concept of summarizing by explaining to students that summaries restate the most important points, condense key ideas, and remove repetition, exact quotes, and specific examples. Summarizing is a good after reading strategy. Emphasize that the resulting summary should be shorter than the original text. Set the purpose for reading by explaining that we are looking to extract the main ideas and the essential information. The Practice Summarizing handout can guide this process. Model how to read a text and underline or highlight the essential information. Allow students time to practice this process. After students have read the text they should ask themselves key questions before drafting. A sample list of questions can be found on the left side of the graphic organizer. Model for the students how to read a sample text and underline or highlight the essential information. Then ask the student to use their notes and highlighted portions of the assigned text to draft a summary. After students have drafted a summary, have them trade papers with a partner. The partners read each other’s summary and ask themselves the questions from the check list on the right. The peers record their questions, comments and suggestions and trade the papers back to the original owner. Students use the checklist and their peer’s suggestions to write their notes for revision. Allow time for students to write a second draft.

Procedure2

Set the purpose for reading by explaining that we are looking to extract the main ideas and the essential information. The Practice Summarizing handout can guide this process. Model how to read a text and underline or highlight the essential information. Allow students time to practice this process.

Procedure3

After students have read the text they should ask themselves key questions before drafting. A sample list of questions can be found on the left side of the graphic organizer. Model for the students how to read a sample text and underline or highlight the essential information. Then ask the student to use their notes and highlighted portions of the assigned text to draft a summary.

Procedure4

After students have drafted a summary, have them trade papers with a partner. The partners read each other’s summary and ask themselves the questions from the check list on the right. The peers record their questions, comments and suggestions and trade the papers back to the original owner. Students use the checklist and their peer’s suggestions to write their notes for revision. Allow time for students to write a second draft.

Differentiation

This is a good activity for teachers to pull aside a small group of students who need more teacher guidance and input. A modest accommodation is for the teacher to pair themselves with a student and record notes in the peer feedback space. Another technique for helping students who need more guidance is to take a paragraph that has been cut it into strips and work with students to individually remove the non-essential information until students kinesthetically form a condensed summary.

Closing

Summarizing is a skill that students will use throughout their lives. Getting to the point is a key ability for future success.

Attachments

Grades

  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8

Key Skills

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Main Idea
  • Note-taking
  • Summarize
  • Synthesis
  • Literature (Integration of Ideas)
  • Synthesis

Standards

No standards available.

Assessments

How would you compile an effective summary after you have read a text? What type of information should be included in a summary? Read the text and write a summary. What changes would you make to revise the draft summary? How can summarizing help you understand what you have read?

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