Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Summarizing Texts

One of the strategies used by good readers is to summarize.  It sounds like a simple idea - extracting main ideas and supporting details from a text, determining what is most important from what you have read.  In my experience, however, I have found that students can have trouble summarizing texts.  In one reading assessment that I commonly give, students are asked to summarize an informational text.  They are given a graphic organizer and are asked to organize main ideas and supporting details.  Many students look at this question and simply write down every single fact that they can remember from the text, ignoring the structure of the provided graphic organizer.  This shows me that they need support to learn how to extract main idea and supporting details.

One simple phrase that I like to use with students who need help summarizing is "somebody wanted but so then."  It is easy for them to remember, and it can be applied to any text that they are reading to help them to summarize and get down to the most important part of the text:

SOMEBODY: Who is the main character?
WANTED: What did the character want?
BUT: What was the problem?
SO: How did the character try to solve the problem?
THEN: What was the resolution?

Food for thought... What strategies have you used to support students who struggle to summarize texts?

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