Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Teaching Summarization

I'll start by saying none of these ideas are mine, I'm just a good thief.  I'm becoming increasingly aware that summarization is important and teachers need more resources.  I think a good idea to try before ever having a student summarize on their own, would be to teach it through group work.  For example, you might have students read a passage of informational text or chapter from a novel together.  After that, they would have conversations based on questions you provide that sequentially walks them through the passage or chapter.  After creating discussion (which targets the speaking and listening domain), students would then write a group summary of the selection.  I'd advise to always make the parameters loose before really holding them to strict standards.  For example, allowing them to write in fragments might help you get some decent student products.  Get them to write first, then teach them how to fix it.   Give them a number that tells them how many words need to be in the summary.  You might tell them you want a 17 word summary of the chapter or text.  Condense or expand that number based on the needs of your students.

After working on this strategy in groups, students can then do a similar activity in pairs before working alone.  Place chairs back-to-back so students can't see each other.  One student reads and one responds.  The student who read the text asks the student who is listening questions after each paragraph.  The student who read records what the other student says.  At the end, they work together to compose a summary that encompasses the entire text.

Other simple ideas are to give them an article without a headline.  Think about it - headlines are simple summaries of articles.  Let them write headlines.  Another excellent example of a summary are window quotes from articles.  When reading articles, I often read that first.  Click here for an example of the type of text I would use to teach this strategy.  Also, click here for my thoughts on how to pull informational text resources that pair with your lessons.  This would also help you when assessing.  In a very quick and simple way you would know if a student understood what he or she read.  You thoughts or strategies for teaching students to write summaries are welcomed and appreciated.