Summarizing

Description 

Summarizing is an important skill for initial consolidation of information, and for later review. Through the act of summarizing, students process information and make meaning of it as they make decisions about main ideas versus details, and as they restate ideas in their own words. When we teach students a structure and a method for summarizing, they are able to use this skill more effectively in learning and studying. In this activity, you will teach students a set of six summarizing rules, which together can enable most students to summarize successfully.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Inferring
  • Synthesizing
Skills 
Main Idea vs Details, Summarizing, Theme

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Building Knowledge in the Discipline
  • Text-Based Answers

Preparation 

Prepare a display of the six rules of summarizing (on handouts or chart paper) Identify the text you would like students to summarize.

Activity Steps 
  1. Teacher introduces or reviews the concept of a summary.

    Stress for students that a summary: · has all the main ideas. · does not have minor details. · is in the student’s own words. · is as short as possible. · uses categories for structure and brevity.

  2. Teacher distributes or displays six summarization rules. Teacher reviews and models rules for students.

    The six rules are: 1. Delete unimportant details. 2. No redundancies: say each idea just once. 3. Substitute superordinate category terms for lists of nouns. 4. Substitute superordinate action terms for lists of actions. 5. Identify the topic sentence of each paragraph. 6. Write a topic sentence for each paragraph that doesn’t already have one.

  3. Students read text.

    Students can read the text either in class or ahead of time. The length and difficulty of the text should correspond with the students’ skill level.

  4. Individually or in small groups, students self-check to ensure they understood what they read. Students ask themselves questions like: · What is the general theme? · What did the author say? · What is the main idea?

    Circulate as students are working and help them to identify strategies they can use to clarify points of confusion.

  5. In groups or individually, students look back at the text and reread all or part of it to ensure that they have correctly identified the main ideas. Students mark main ideas with a highlighter or pen.

    Confer with students as they are working, gauging their thinking and pushing their thinking further.

  6. Students identify lists in the text, and replace each list with a word or phrase.

    Some students may need extra practice in identifying categories and superordinate categorical terms. You can help them to practice this skill in isolation by giving them lists of terms and asking them to sort them under category headings.

  7. Students look at each paragraph, and identify any existing topic sentences. Students write topic sentences for paragraphs that don’t have them.

    As students are working, you can circulate and engage them in mini-conferences. Ask questions about what they are noticing and thinking, and help them to extend their thought to a higher level.

  8. Students identify unnecessary or repetitive information that should not be included in the summary and cross it out.

    As students are working, you can circulate and engage them in mini-conferences. Ask questions about what they are noticing and thinking, and help them to extend their thought to a higher level.

  9. Students decide which paragraphs are necessary to include in the summary, and which can be eliminated (if any). Students cross out unnecessary paragraphs.

    As students are working, you can circulate and engage them in mini-conferences. Ask questions about what they are noticing and thinking, and help them to extend their thought to a higher level.

  10. Students convert topic sentences and main ideas into a summary. Students check summaries against the six rules to ensure they meet all criteria.

    It may be useful to convert the rules into a checklist to ease this step.

  11. Students reread summary to hear how it sounds. They can read to themselves or to a partner. Students revise summary to make it sound natural. Students may add an introductory and/or concluding sentence.

    Students would benefit from models of awkward-sounding summaries and the changes that improved them.

  12. Students get with a partner and read each other’s summaries. Students discuss similarities and differences, and areas of improvement for each.

    Students can also share with the larger group at this point, or summaries can be displayed and students can do a gallery walk.

  13. In pairs or individually, students reflect on their learning process either in conversation or in writing. Students answer questions including: · How might these six rules help your summarizing process? · When and how is summarizing useful? · Why is it

    Students may complete this step in a journal, in a class discussion, or on an exit ticket.

Downloadable Resources 
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