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How can I use summarizing to better understand and remember what I read?
Learn to retell the major events/points of a text succinctly and in the order in which they appeared.

Time To Complete 

4-6 hours

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.10

I Can Statements 

  • I can:
    • Summarize a text accurately and objectively, including the necessary key elements and proper sequencing to allow someone else to understand the text I have summarized
    • Take a general concept or principle and provide examples of it, or take an example of something and identify its general concept or principle 
  • I will know my summary is of high quality when it:
    • Is accurate
    • Is objective
    • Includes all key details and excludes extraneous information
    • Is properly sequenced

Suggestions for Assessing Student Readiness to Move Forward:

  • Confer with students, asking them to compare their summary to the source text and explain how they developed their summary.
  • Ask students to self-evaluate their work after completing one of the activities below.  


Possible Activities 
  1. Model reading a text aloud, while displaying it to the students.  After reading it aloud, model stopping and thinking aloud about what happened in the text.  Then, model recording the most important events in the text in a brief list form.  Think aloud about how to express each event briefly, and how to eliminate less important events.  Model referring back to the text to confirm event details and order.

  2. Model reading aloud texts of different formats, including nonfiction text with headings and subheadings, as well as narrative text with chapter titles.  Think aloud about how the elements of a text (title, headings, chapter titles, book jacket description, opening and closing sentences of a text, first sentences of paragraphs) give you clues about the main ideas and supporting details of each section.  Model using different color highlighters to identify different text elements, and to distinguish between main ideas and supporting details.  Then, think aloud about how the main ideas you have identified can be pieced together to form a summary.

  3. Students should practice reading texts of various genres (including informational texts and narrative texts) and should use highlighters of different colors to identify text elements, and to distinguish between main ideas and details.  Then, they should transfer the main ideas they have identified to a separate document, in the order they appear in the text.  This is a first stab at a summary.

  4. Students should practice summarizing in groups and individually by reading texts and stopping at predetermined intervals to create brief summaries.  They can sometimes summarize aloud, and sometimes record their summaries on Post-its, chart paper, or two-column notes.  Stronger students should summarize longer chunks of text (entire poems, essays, chapters, or books) while struggling students should summarize shorter chunks.  They should continue various forms of practice until they are adept at summarizing

  5. After several days of practice and once they have achieved mastery, students should write a summary of their first text selection and include this summary in their portfolio.

Downloadable Resources 
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