Are you one of the many teachers who is struggling to teach summarizing? Summarizing can be a difficult skill for students to master. It requires strong reading comprehension since students need to be able to find the main idea and supporting details.
Why teach summarizing?
Writing summaries is such an important skill. Students need to be able grasp summarizing to write longer essays and make arguments in high school and college. Summarizing is a level 2 skill according to the depth of knowledge, and being able to do it well will set students up for higher levels of knowledge and success.
To begin teaching summarizing, I like to review what a summary IS and what a summary IS NOT. Then, we will read a short passage and two examples. One is a good example of a summary and one is a non-example.
Next, I use two techniques to teach summarizing: Paragraph Shrinking, and Question, Quote, Summary. (Both of these techniques are included in my Graphic Organizers for Reading Comprehension packet, which contains 30 graphic organizers that will help students in ALL content areas.)
Question, Quote, Summary
The first strategy, “Question, Quote, Summary” has three steps. First, students write a question they have after reading. This is helpful for reflection and extension of what they have read. Next, students will write an important quote from the text. This will help them clarify the main idea. Finally, they will write a short summary.
When applicable, I like to add in “Sketch” to this strategy. This is a great way to visual learners to express themselves and make meaning from a text.
The second strategy, “Paragraph Shrinking” also has three steps. First, students answer the question “Who or what is the text about?” This gets them focused on the subject of the passage. Next, they will answer the question, “what is the most important thing the who or the what is doing?” This helps them determine the key actions taking place. Finally, they will use this information to write a brief summary.
Tips for students:
Summaries should be in your own words, not direct quotations from the text. They should contain the main ideas and crucial supporting ideas only. They should not include your own opinion or any information not written in the text. Summaries should be shorter than the text.
When students are struggling and don’t know where to start, suggest they look for key words and words that are repeated. I like to use the free web app Word Clouds. With this program, students can copy and paste a text, then instantly see a visualization of the most occurring words.
Looking for more ways to help struggling writers? Check out this blog post.
Need Summarizing Resources?
Click the covers below to get FREE Summarizing Student Guide and Examples for Distance Learning and find Practice Passages and Graphic Organizers for grades 3-5 and grades 6-8!
What have you used to teach summarizing? Let me know what I’m missing in the comments below!