Summarizing

A Strategy That Works!

"Summarization is a cognitive process

that requires synthesizing information for long-term memory use. More than just a main idea, a summary must extract the substance of the entire information. It has a significant effect on memory and achievement."

~Bertie Kingore, Differentiation Expert

Purpose: Recognize the benefits of summarizing for student achievement and plan one summarizing activity to use with my students.

Why Summarize?

Summarizing requires students to...
  • COMPREHEND the written text or content.
  • CATEGORIZE data or information.
  • EVALUATE the relative importance of information.
  • DELETE less important content.
  • SYNTHESIZE results into a format considerably shorter than the original.

Characteristics of a Good Summary

How to Write a Summary

Teaching Students to Summarize

  • Make the purpose of the summary clear: to demonstrate your understanding, to share your thinking with others, to process new learning.
  • Provide explicit instruction: modeling, guided practice, feedback.
  • Keep it simple: beginning - middle - end.
  • Scaffold as necessary: provide sentence frames, chunk text or information, give immediate feedback.
  • Extend for students who are ready: beginning - middle - end + topic sentence + transition words.
  • Provide challenges: Can you write a one sentence summary? Can you summarize a process that is not text-based?

Ideas for Formats

  • Paragraphed
  • Verbal
  • Bulleted
  • Visual
  • Collaborative
  • Musical? Dramatic? Other?

Ideas for Activities

  • Ask students to write summaries of short, high-interest video clips.
  • Assign groups to write poor examples, summaries that do not meet assessment criteria. Groups share and identify the flawed criteria.
  • Have students use sticky notes to identify the five most significant or important words in the original material. Post so that students can explain and defend their choices to others before creating their summaries.
  • Jigsaw a piece of text or content so that expert groups focus on the salient information from only one part then meet with home groups to synthesize ideas into a coherent summary.

Take and Try...

  • Checklist for Assessing Summaries
  • Planning Form to Use in your Classroom. Bring this back along with at least two or three student artifacts the next time we meet.