Summarizing is not only the paraphrasing of a reading. Although that is certainly one method of summarizing, in reality summarizing is any act that makes the reader process the material that he or she has just read. As a matter of fact, summarizing does not have to be about reading at all, but about information gathered aurally or physically as well.
When new information is presented,we retain it in our short-term memory until it is replaced by some newer bit of information. Unless we do something with it, there is no reason why it would be moved into long term memory. You often do all of the things your teachers tell you to do: read the textbook, listen in class, write down notes… but how often are you frustrated by your total lack of recollection the next day, forget about a few weeks later? In order to move information from short-term to long-term memory, I need to train you to summarize, and will structure lessons to support this activity. As it is probably a new skill for you, you can expect it to be awkward and rather annoying initially; like anything else, as you practice, you will assimilate it into your toolbox and eventually won't even consciously realize that you are doing it.
The readings from The Physics Classroom will, for the most part, cover what we will discuss the next day or have discussed during the current day's lesson. Either way, you will receive the information two times: once by reading and once by listening. Please don’t think that this is a reason to skim the material, “Oh, I already know this!” or "She's going to go over it tomorrow anyway!" Hearing it and knowing it are two different things.
As a preview, it will allow you to take notes on basic ideas, freeing you up during class to participate and really engage with me. You will also already have questions, and will know what it is that you found difficult so that you can focus on those parts of the class lesson. As a follow-up, the reading will allow you to add material to your notes, think about what we have discussed, and reflect on whether or not you truly understand everything.
Either way, the follow-up activity will definitely be easier, since you will be at least a little familiar with the ideas presented to you.
All summaries should be posted on your wiki. Your wiki is your notebook. When summarizing in your wiki, you may add pictures, illustrations, animations, etc to support your words. You may even copy and paste reference sections of the text (with appropriate citations), as long as you explain everything IN YOUR OWN WORDS.
Below are described 5 methods. Initially, I will assign them, one at a time, so that you can practice and master each technique. Eventually, you will allowed to choose for yourself and I may add some other methods as appropriate.
One of the most important things you should do is critique your summary. This may be something that you do with a partner or small group, as well. These are also the questions I will use to evaluate your summaries.
EVALUATE YOUR SUMMARY:
• Does it convey information accurately?
• Is it too narrow or too broad? Does it convey all of the important elements? Does it convey too much?
• Would someone else using this summary gain all he or she needed to know to understand the subject?
• Are the ideas in the right sequence?
• Did I leave out my opinion and just report an undistorted essence of the original context?
• Did I use my own words and style?
Method 1: Rules-Based Summaries
There are 4 steps to follow, remembered easily using the terms T-RG-TS (Pronounced: TARGETS). Start by copying and pasting the entire page into an editable document.
- Trivia: Draw a line through or delete anything that seems trivial or frivolous (adjectives, similar examples, transition words)
- Redundancies: Draw a line through or delete any repetitive information or examples.
- Generalize: Replace lists of specific items with general terms and phrases. (Ex: if text lists mirrors, lenses, prisms and thin films, you can substitute "optical materials" for all of those.)
- Topic Sentence: Write a good topic sentence for the material (the subject and the author’s claim about it)
Method 2a: Directed Reading (as a Follow-Up)
After reading the material, answer the following questions:
- What (specifically) did you read that you already understood well from our class discussion? Describe at least 2 items fully.
- What (specifically) did you read that you were a little confused/unclear/shaky about from class, but the reading helped to clarify? Describe the misconception you were having as well as your new understanding.
- What (specifically) did you read that you still don’t understand? Please word these in the form of a question.
- What (specifically) did you read that was not gone over during class today?
Method 2b: Directed Reading (as a Preview)
After reading the material, answer the following questions:
- What (specifically) did you read that you understand well? Describe at least 2 items fully.
- What (specifically) did you read that made you feel little confused/unclear/shaky, but further reading helped to clarify? Describe the misconception(s) you were having as well as your new understanding.
- What (specifically) did you read that you don’t understand? Please word these in the form of questions.
- What (specifically) did you read that you thought was pretty interesting, that you didn't know before, or can easily apply to your every day life?
Method 3: P-Q-R-S-T
This is simple to remember and an effective way to read a passage.
P = Preview to identify the main parts of the reading
Q = Develop questions to which you want to find answers.
R = Read the material, twice if possible.
S = State the central idea or theme.
T = Test yourself by answering the questions.
In your wiki, you will record the questions (minimum of 5 for each passage), providing a statement of the central idea or theme, and the answers to your questions.
Method 4: SQ3R
S = Survey (Read the heading of each section and the first sentence of each paragraph. Look at the graphics and pictures to get an idea of what the webpage is about.)
Q = Question (Turn the headings into questions to set a purpose for reading, as a prompt for note taking.)
R = Read (Read the text to answer your questions and write down the answers in note form.)
R = Recite (Cover your answers to the questions and read just the questions, answering them from memory.)
R = Review (write a summary of your notes, in paragraph form, or talk it out with your parents (or anyone willing to listen..)
Method 5: Headline Technique
After reading each passage, imagine that you are a journalist. Newspaper headlines have to grab the reader’s attention, and they must capture the essence of the story in one line. In addition, the first paragraph (usually only 2 – 4 sentences) includes all of the major points, with the rest of the article fleshing out those points fully. Your job is to generate the headline and first paragraph only. Do this for each concept presented in the passages that you are assigned to read (generally, each webpage from TPC).