Summarizing is a powerful learning strategy which research proves to yield high growth in student learning. Summarizing requires students to understand the material, determine the most relevant information or details and be able to paraphrase the information.
Teacher and students can use summarizing to monitor comprehension of text they are reading AND to monitor the content they are leanring. If teachers stop periodically while teaching and ask students to paraphrase learning with a partner, this can act as a formative assessment to determined whether the material has been grasped. If students employ this technique as a reader (TREASURE), they know when the meaning of the text is lost and when rereading is deemed necessary.
As a school we are incorporating summarizing to encourage engagement within a lesson and to show learning of incremental skills within a unit, story or lesson progression. Turn and Talk is often used for quick summarization.
Here are a few ideas to “change it up” and still get the power of summarization.
Have students choose 5 quotes that best show the author’s main idea or theme. You could even have students do this with events. The choice of the 5 most important can then be a discussion to justify or defend the choices made by the student. Asking the student to then star or highlight the MOST important from the list and why.
Students must create a summary in one sentence or 30 words or less. This challenges students to choose the most relevant ideas to include. You could do this activity with Facebook , Instagram, etc.
Students are expected to write a caption for a section of text. To help them reflect on learning, ask them to make a connection to self, text, or world. Finally, students illustrate the “caption” or main idea. For students who need to build vocbulary–they can label their illustration with important vocabulary from the text. This could be especially powerful for content learning such as science.
Keep students actively involved with constantly talking about what they are learning., Encouraging students to capture their ideas is important. Turn the normal “Think Pair Share” activity into a “WRITE Pair Share” which requires students to write down important ideas first and then discuss them–”WRITE–PAIR–WRITE–SHARE” would be even more powerful because students would write ideas independently, have time to discuss and then ADD new ideas before sharing. The idea of learning how to refine ideas and change, delete or refine them is the process of deep thinking.