Summarizing teaches students how to discern the most important ideas in a text, how to ignore irrelevant information, and how to integrate the central ideas in a meaningful way. Teaching students to summarize improves their memory for what is read. Summarization strategies can be used in almost every content area.
Why use summarizing?
- It helps students learn to determine essential ideas and consolidate important details that support them.
- It enables students to focus on key words and phrases of an assigned text that are worth noting and remembering.
- It teaches students how to take a large selection of text and reduce it to the main points for more concise understanding.
|When to use:||Before reading||During reading||After reading|
|How to use:||Individually||With small groups||Whole class setting|
How to use summarizing
- Begin by reading OR have students listen to the text selection.
- Ask students the following framework questions:
- What are the main ideas?
- What are the crucial details necessary for supporting the ideas?
- What information is irrelevant or unnecessary?
- Have them use key words or phrases to identify the main points from the text.
Download blank templates
- Sum It Up sheet (112K PDF)*
- Sum It Up directions (84K PDF)*
- Framed Paragraph: Lesson Closure (72K PDF)*
Here's a lesson plan for helping students learn to summarize using Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Here are a handful of ideas for including summarizing skills in math lessons that promote problem-solving skills.
This lesson plan integrates science and language arts. It uses cumulative, garden-themed tales to teach students how to summarize what they learn.
Children's books to use with this strategy
Goose and Duck
Fact and fiction combine in this story of migrating birds and imprinting behaviors by a well known naturalist.
Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship
The 2004 tsunami that began in Southeast Asia separates baby hippo from his pod. The true story of the hippo, Owen, and his unlikely friendship with a 130 year old tortoise is shown in photographs and lucid text.
for second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners
- Use writing activities to build on prior knowledge, help improve writing, and strengthen vocabulary skills.
- Guide students throughout the summary writing process. Encourage students to write successively shorter summaries, constantly refining their written piece until only the most essential and relevant information remains.
- Have students work together to answer summary questions and write responses.
See the research that supports this strategy
Jones, R. (2007). Strategies for Reading Comprehension: Summarizing. Retrieved 2008, January 29, from http://www.readingquest.org/strat/summarize.html.
Guthrie, J. T. (2003). Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction: Practices of Teaching Reading for Understanding. In C. Snow & A. Sweet (Eds.), Reading for Understanding: Implications of RAND Report for Education (pp. 115-140). New York: Guilford.