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October 3, 2016

Sensational Summarizing Strategies

By John DePasquale
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    There are those moments during an independent reading conference when I simply say to a student, "tell me about your book" and the next thing I know I’m being led down a rabbit hole of jumbled ideas as the student attempts to tell me a story’s intricate plot and even subplots all at once. It is in these moments that I am reminded of effective summarizing as an important reading skill that helps many students get to the point.

    Summarizing is an essential reading skill I teach early and often in my classroom. Even for advanced readers, it’s a skill that requires continual practice. Summarizing is a skill that requires students to piece together and condense the key ideas and details of a large piece of text into a concise understanding of a text’s main points. To successfully summarize a text, students must first determine important information while disregarding irrelevant information as they read. As a result, summarizing requires students to comprehend, analyze and synthesis information from a text. This sets summarizing apart from simply retelling what was read.

    Here are a few quick ideas to develop your students’ sensational summarizing skills:

    Somebody-Wanted-But-So-Then

    This tried-and-true strategy is my go-to standby as a quick method to help students determine the key details in order to summarize a fictional text. For this strategy, students respond to five short prompts as they identify important literary and plot elements of a story.

    • Somebody: Who is the main character? (characters)

    • Wanted: What did the main character want?

    • But: What problems did the main character encounter? What obstacles prevented the main character from getting what s/he wanted? (conflict)

    • So: How did the main character solve the problem? (climax)

    • Then: How did the story end? What did the main character learn as a result of the problem? (resolution)

    This is an excellent strategy that students can use to quickly summarize any fictional text. Additionally, if a student is struggling to respond to one of the prompts, it is a sign to me that there may be comprehension issues that need to be addressed before the text can be summarized.

    Haiku Chapter Summary

    I borrowed the idea for haiku chapter summaries from a fabulously creative teacher, Christine Visich. This strategy combines the form and structure of haiku poetry with succinct summaries of a text. Since haikus use short phrases to capture a poignant feeling or image, this strategy forces students to be concise and select only the most important information from a text for their summaries. These pithy haikus are just the right length to summarize chapters of a book or sections of a text. The three lines of these haiku summaries follow the standard 5/7/5 syllable count.

    • Line one: 5 syllables

    • Line two: 7 syllables

    • Line three: 5 syllables

    Here’s an example of a haiku summary based on the short story The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst

    Let’s make Doodle walk

    Knot of cruelty takes over

    He is pushed too hard

    These haikus can easily be written on a sticky note and kept in the books as a reference for students.  Haiku summaries are not only developing an important reading skill, but they also encourage students to practice beautiful and creative writing.

    Sentence-Phrase-Word

    Sentence-Phrase-Word is an excellent summarizing strategy to use with a small group of students as they work together to capture the crux of a shared text. It is a great strategy to use with a group because it encourages students to talk with each other as they develop a collective understanding of a text. After reading a text, students select an important sentence, phrase, and word that capture the meaning of a text. The students then share in three rounds their selections with their group members and justify their choices with an explanation.

    • Round 1: Choose one sentence from the text that was meaningful to you and connects to an important idea of the text.

    • Round 2: Select one compelling phrase from the text that best connects to the main idea of the section.

    • Round 3: Choose a single word that captures both your attention and the important idea of the text.

    I enjoy listening in to these group conversations as trends and common themes start to emerge.

     

     

    You can follow me on Twitter @johndepasquale_.

    There are those moments during an independent reading conference when I simply say to a student, "tell me about your book" and the next thing I know I’m being led down a rabbit hole of jumbled ideas as the student attempts to tell me a story’s intricate plot and even subplots all at once. It is in these moments that I am reminded of effective summarizing as an important reading skill that helps many students get to the point.

    Summarizing is an essential reading skill I teach early and often in my classroom. Even for advanced readers, it’s a skill that requires continual practice. Summarizing is a skill that requires students to piece together and condense the key ideas and details of a large piece of text into a concise understanding of a text’s main points. To successfully summarize a text, students must first determine important information while disregarding irrelevant information as they read. As a result, summarizing requires students to comprehend, analyze and synthesis information from a text. This sets summarizing apart from simply retelling what was read.

    Here are a few quick ideas to develop your students’ sensational summarizing skills:

    Somebody-Wanted-But-So-Then

    This tried-and-true strategy is my go-to standby as a quick method to help students determine the key details in order to summarize a fictional text. For this strategy, students respond to five short prompts as they identify important literary and plot elements of a story.

    • Somebody: Who is the main character? (characters)

    • Wanted: What did the main character want?

    • But: What problems did the main character encounter? What obstacles prevented the main character from getting what s/he wanted? (conflict)

    • So: How did the main character solve the problem? (climax)

    • Then: How did the story end? What did the main character learn as a result of the problem? (resolution)

    This is an excellent strategy that students can use to quickly summarize any fictional text. Additionally, if a student is struggling to respond to one of the prompts, it is a sign to me that there may be comprehension issues that need to be addressed before the text can be summarized.

    Haiku Chapter Summary

    I borrowed the idea for haiku chapter summaries from a fabulously creative teacher, Christine Visich. This strategy combines the form and structure of haiku poetry with succinct summaries of a text. Since haikus use short phrases to capture a poignant feeling or image, this strategy forces students to be concise and select only the most important information from a text for their summaries. These pithy haikus are just the right length to summarize chapters of a book or sections of a text. The three lines of these haiku summaries follow the standard 5/7/5 syllable count.

    • Line one: 5 syllables

    • Line two: 7 syllables

    • Line three: 5 syllables

    Here’s an example of a haiku summary based on the short story The Scarlet Ibis by James Hurst

    Let’s make Doodle walk

    Knot of cruelty takes over

    He is pushed too hard

    These haikus can easily be written on a sticky note and kept in the books as a reference for students.  Haiku summaries are not only developing an important reading skill, but they also encourage students to practice beautiful and creative writing.

    Sentence-Phrase-Word

    Sentence-Phrase-Word is an excellent summarizing strategy to use with a small group of students as they work together to capture the crux of a shared text. It is a great strategy to use with a group because it encourages students to talk with each other as they develop a collective understanding of a text. After reading a text, students select an important sentence, phrase, and word that capture the meaning of a text. The students then share in three rounds their selections with their group members and justify their choices with an explanation.

    • Round 1: Choose one sentence from the text that was meaningful to you and connects to an important idea of the text.

    • Round 2: Select one compelling phrase from the text that best connects to the main idea of the section.

    • Round 3: Choose a single word that captures both your attention and the important idea of the text.

    I enjoy listening in to these group conversations as trends and common themes start to emerge.

     

     

    You can follow me on Twitter @johndepasquale_.

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