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Draw To Remember Summaries


In this activity students will draw and write a short description of something they just read. These drawings and summaries can serve as guides for students to go back and review events from previous readings to help with memory and comprehension of main ideas or key events. This activity can be used for short or longer texts. An important aspect of this activity for longer texts is that the completed summaries should be compiled in a way that ensures easy access to students. This could be a reading journal, folder, or online drawing pad file. The summaries can be a compilation of key events over the course of a longer text. Seeing a student-facing Google Doc template here >>

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Determining Importance
  • Synthesizing
  • Visualizing

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Building Knowledge in the Discipline
  • Staircase of Complexity


Decide whether this will be a paper-based or digital drawing activity depending on your technology access and student proficiency using those tools. Decide on how often you would like students to complete the summaries. At the end of every chapter? After every three chapters? That will often depend on the length of the selected text.

Activity Steps 
  1. Introduce Draw to Remember Summaries to the students as a tool to help them remember the key ideas from a text and to serve as notes for future summaries or other assignments.

    Reinforce with students the importance of doing a thorough job on these summaries because they could be very helpful for more complex assignments in the future.

  2. Model for students your own drawing and short description following a reading. Highlight your own thinking as you decide what to draw and why you selected that particular image. Elicit feedback from students about additional details they think should be a

    Model the first section or chapter of a reading for the students so they have a sample in their mind as they work.

  3. After the first few readings, share student drawings and short descriptions as samples for the class. Ask students, Is there anything you would take out or add in either the drawing or the description? Why? Why not?

    Ask for volunteers to share their work. This is a good opportunity to remind students about giving feedback on each other’s work in a respectful manner. After a few samples, this step will become unnecessary, as students get better.

  4. After every 3-4 Draw to Remember Summaries, ask students to write a more formal summary of the text using their Draw to Remember Summaries as notes.

    This step not only reinforces memory by going back and summarizing all they have read so far, it also reinforces the purpose of doing the Draw to Remember Summaries.

  5. Students reflect on draw to remember summaries and how this activity helped improve reading and comprehension.

    This reflection could be a whole group, pairs or individual. If students have individual reflection journals this could be an entry. Students can answer questions like: What did you learn today? How did you learn it? How does this strategy help you as you are reading better comprehend the text? How could you use this strategy in the future to help you while you read?

Adaptation for the Math Classroom 

Encourage students to use Draw to Remember summaries to capture a key concept or skill from a math text or lesson. Rather than creating a drawing for the whole chapter, students in a math class might work with smaller portions of the textbook to document the key mathematical understandings and connect the ideas into broader and more flexible learning. Sharing and discussing the elements within a strong Draw to Remember Summary will provide students with a touchstone that incorporates the most essential elements of the material.

Downloadable Resources 
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