Summarizing - Teach with Tech

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Summarizing is one of the most challenging skills for students to master, especially those with disabilities. Consider differentiated ways to describe, model, and prompt use of the strategy to engage the widest range of learners.

Steps:

  1. Provide Clear Explanations
  2. Give Students Strategies and Models
  3. Provide Opportunities for Practice

Step 1: Provide Clear Explanations

  1. Introduce the three key elements of a good summarizing.
    Elements of a Good Summary
    • Give a one-sentence overview or topic statement: “The Red Sox beat the Yankees last night and won the game 5-4.”
    • List or explain key details: “The game was tied until the bottom of the eighth inning, when the Red Sox scored the game-winning home run.”
    • Leave out irrelevant or unimportant details. A great summary doesn’t recount the entire baseball game play by play; it just shares the highlights and most interesting moments.
  2. Give students concrete strategies for marking digital text (e.g., highlighting, underlining, commenting, using sticky notes) to identify key ideas and details.
  3. To activate prior knowledge, remind students that they are already creating summaries when they recount their daily events, tell others about their adventures, or describe a location.
View evidence behind this recommendation

IES Recommendations

Provide explicit vocabulary instruction

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices

Provide direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices

Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade

Step 2: Give Students Strategies and Models

  1. To model how to create a summary, provide students with a set of guidelines that they can keep in their reading portfolios.
    Guidelines for creating a summary
    • Skim the text to get the basic idea of what the text is about.
    • Mark/highlight key words and details using online tools, Post-It notes, and so on.
    • Ignore details that are not important.
    • Create a topic sentence to begin the summary.
    • Take notes along the way.
    • Review and organize the notes.
    • Draft the summary and revise based on feedback.
  2. Demonstrate the many different strategies that students can use to identify and organize big ideas and supporting details, such as marking and highlighting both print and digital text, using text-to-speech software to support independent reading, and creating a semantic map or drawing.
  3. Demonstrate features of word processing software that can support summarization, such as headings and key words, images, graphs and maps, comments and notes, and tracked changes.
View evidence behind this recommendation

IES Recommendations

Teach students to identify and use the text’s organizational structure to comprehend, learn, and remember content.

Evidence:
Moderate

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade

Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices

Step 3: Provide Opportunities for Practice

  1. Practice summarizing as a whole-class exercise. As student volunteers read short selections aloud, use a set of prompting questions to help them create a summary.
  2. Support practice in small peer groups, where students can help each other to identify and synthesize information. Encourage use of text-to-speech programs (like Natural Reader) for independent reading tasks.
    Ways to encourage peer practice in writing collaborative summaries
    • Create a classroom reading blog
    • Develop an online science journal
    • Have students compare good summaries with summaries that are incomplete, confused, or that have irrelevant information
    • Have students list the features of a good summary
    • Create a shared storyboard
  3. Encourage students to use a checklist for creating a good summary, saved on the class website or in a wiki, and provide relevant feedback as often as possible.
View evidence behind this recommendation

IES Recommendations

Teach students how to use reading comprehension strategies

Evidence:
Moderate

Source: IES Practice Guide: Improving adolescent literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices

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