Teaching Students to Summarize Effectively

Summarizing is a necessary skill for positive learning experiences. Many learners do not know how to summarize effectively. Many learners continue on and on writing unnecessarily. Sometimes, our learners miss the main idea entirely. This approach enables learners to learn how to summarize effectively while providing a necessary review of the material.

In this approach, you will need a traditional whiteboard or Smartboard for each learner. This is not necessary since notebook paper works just as well; it is just the use of a different modality to see the words being “erased” off of the page. Each learner will need a marker as well.

You will need 10 cards from a playing card deck, with the values of 6-13, meaning only the number cards 6-10 are used, and the Jacks are 11, the  Queens are 12, and the Kings are 13.

To begin this process, have each learner get a whiteboard,  or a piece of notebook paper. If you are lucky enough to have the technology, feel free to use laptops with a projector or a SMARTboard, if available.

Read a passage to the learners.

Have the learners summarize what you have just read to them. Allow enough time for the learners to write their summaries.

Once the summary is written, ask for a volunteer to read their summary. Tell the learner that you will write their summary word on either the overhead, the computer with the LCD projection, or the SMARTboard.

Count up the words and list them on the page of the summary.

Draw a card from the deck of 10 cards.

Subtract that number from the total number of words in the summary. For instance, if the summary had 56 words, and you drew a 9, subtract 9 from 56, resulting in 47. At this point, have learners only write a summary with 47 words.

Then do the card subtraction again.

Follow this pattern until the summary is between 9-15 words only.

This approach can be used to summarize written text, videos, and class activities.

Develop “challenge words” that learners do not see. See if they can summarize using words that you might have used in your summary.

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