Strategy 4: Summarizing - Three strategies

The skill of summarizing or getting the gist of a paragraph or page is a skill that should be practiced. Students need learn to identify the key ideas and important examples in their reading. They do this through your modeling and their practicing. Here are three approaches to summarizing:
Strategy 1: Grasp - A good approach to use with the whole class as they begin to learn to summarize is the Guided Reading and Summary Procedure (MRA). This approach gives students an opportunity to try creating a summary as a group, before they create summaries on their own. This provides scaffolding for students who haven’t yet mastered this skill. Step 1: Students read a short piece of text, with instructions to remember as much as possible. Step 2: Brainstorming: the teacher records all of the facts that the students remember on the board. Step 3: As factual discrepancies occur, students reread for clarification. Step 4: The teacher guides a process for putting the information into categories with main headings and details. Step 5: Students summarize the important information in a few short sentences. Handout: Euclid example p. 27 Once students have experienced this guided practice, short selections from a textbook, newspaper or magazine articles are good for practice. Ask them to write the summary sentences first in small groups, then have them try it individually. The summary, in as much as possible, should be written in one’s own words, not the language of the text. The summary should include the author’s main idea or purpose for writing.
Strategy 2: Two-column notes - After students have practiced creating summaries, they can use a two-column chart to summarize one or two main points after every couple of paragraphs. In the left column, students record details; in the right column, they turn the details into big ideas. Handout: Two-column details/summary form p. 28.
Strategy 3: Concept maps - Simple concept maps are useful for summarizing sections that contain hierarchical content or interconnected content. Give students two blank concept maps that could be used with the content of the reading selection and let them choose which they want to use (or they may find uses for both). You may have to teach them how to use concept mapping – what goes in the circles and what can be written on the arrows. A good website with lots of different graphic organizers is
Homework: Try one of these strategies, then write a few short comments in the discussion tab about how it worked and what changes you might suggest, if any.