Summarizing: Using Hand Motions for Key Words or Points
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
Teach your students summarization skills with this lesson from author and literacy coach Lori Oczkus. Students work in pairs or teams to identify a limited number of key words or points from a select reading and create hand motions to accompany their words. Students will then perform their hand motion summaries for the class. As a result, students will gain a better understanding of how to determine what is important and how to summarize in a logical order.
1. Introduce the Strategy
Tell students that good readers summarize not just after reading but throughout the process. Today, I will model for you, and you will practice making hand motion summaries to go with the reading.
- Ask students what they already know about creating a summary. Partners should turn to one another and talk about what a summary is and what are the necessary steps of summarizing, such as rereading, selecting only important points, telling in order, and using text vocabulary in the summary.
- Define/explain the strategy. Explain to the students that good readers summarize constantly as they read. They select key words and ideas to remember and then put those in order into a summary using vocabulary from the reading. The tricky part is finding the most important details and ideas to use in the summary. Summarizing helps us remember what we read.
Think aloud using your own reading as reference and tell your students how you use summarizing to enhance your comprehension. Alternately, you could give a quick example of a hand motion summary using a book that the class is very familiar with before demonstrating from the text you've selected for today's lesson. Select five key phrases or words from the familiar text and make up hand motions for each.
For example, to demonstrate a hand motion summary for the short story "La Bamba" by Gary Soto, you might select the following words and hand motions to string together in a summary that you verbalize while showing the hand motions. You might say, "Manuel lip syncs [pantomime singing] the song "La Bamba" in the school talent show [clap and cheer] and the record gets stuck [hand motion of a record going around]. He is embarrassed [facial expression; put hands to face] in front of the entire school but they think he is a funny [pantomime laughing] comedian."
- Engage students. As you demonstrate hand signals, tell students why you selected a particular motion to go with a word or phrase. Encourage students to follow along and try the same hand signals.
2. Model the Strategy Through Interactive Think Aloud
Read aloud from the text, pausing several times to model how to summarize a small portion of text. Show how you would select just five key phrases or words. Write the words and phrases. Say something like, "I think I will pick these words . . . because . . . ." Read on and if you change your mind and want to use other words, say, "I think these words are more important since I read on and learned more." Erase and cross out words that you ultimately do not select. Make up hand motions to go with each of your key phrases and give a hand motion summary in order.
- Engage students. Ask students to join you in performing the hand motions from your summary. Ask them to take turns performing your summary with a partner.
3. Support Interactive Guided Practice
Turn to a page of text and work together as a class to determine which ideas from the text should make the key words and phrases list. Students talk to partners and write on slates as they participate and offer their suggestions for key words. Direct students to work in pairs or at table groups to practice finding a limited number of key words or phrases on assigned pages of the text. Provide students with overhead transparencies or a large sheet of paper on which to write their words. Circulate among groups and assist them in determining the important words in their text. Students may add drawings to go with their summaries. Invite groups to perform their hand motion summaries for the class.
4. Provide Independent Practice
Students read on their own and continue to collect key vocabulary to perform as hand motions. Share with partners and the whole class.
5. Wrap Up the Lesson
Ask students to discuss the following:
- How can you figure out what the most important parts are in a text?
- How does creating a hand motion summary help you better understand the reading?
Differentiating Instruction Tip
Vary the lesson by inviting students to sketch their key words/phrases as a summary rather than making up hand motions.
Try the lesson with nonfiction leveled texts or with content area reading textbooks.
This article is excerpted from Interactive Think-Aloud Lessons: 25 Surefire Ways to Engage Students and Improve Comprehension by Lori Oczkus.