Using Smartphones for Summarizing

Instructional Strategies: 

How many of your students have a smartphone tucked, away according to school rules, but really never far from reach? Surprise them! Have them take out their smartphones and use them to build summarizing skills.

Summarizing requires students to distill the key ideas and supporting details of a text, orally presented information, a video, etc. The ability to summarize is an important reading comprehension skill for all the reasons listed in the chart.

Below is a list of 10 ways to take advantage of smartphones for teaching and learning. Of course, tablets can do the same things.

Have your students:

  1. select audio or video passages from websites and podcasts of personal interest, to summarize
  2. use a text-to-speech feature to hear the text read aloud and/or read along with the text
  3. identify only the key details by deleting extraneous information or words
  4. create a title for a text passage you send them via email
  5. take photos or videos of different after school or weekend activities and have them  identify the main idea
  6. send the students a titled photo or video and have them list out the details they see
  7. record their summaries as a precursor to drafting
  8. after reading or listening to a passage, have them send text messages to you, or to peers, that identify either the main idea or details
  9. do a Google image search to find images that would illustrate details from a passage
  10. write a collaborative summary by texting or emailing ideas back and forth

Check out the following two websites for additional ideas to explore.

Teachers generated the 10 suggestions listed above during a workshop that focused on summarizing. The jumping off point for brainstorming was an in-depth exploration the Summarizing Instructional Strategy Guide in PowerUp What Works. Besides Summarizing, two other English Language Arts (ELA) Instructional Guides also focus on building reading comprehension skills:  Visualizing, and Self-Questioning.  Each one contains a definition of the skill, with an accompanying slide show, technology-enhanced teaching strategies, and case studies of classroom instruction, short videos, supporting research, and related resources. 

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