A Collection of Summarization Techniques
1. Shrink Wrap Summaries: On a copy of a reading, students cross out unnecessary or repetitive details, transition words, and other extraneous parts. Continue the process until only the bare minimum remains. Compare individual student versions and discuss the rationale for including or omitting particulars.
2. TaRGeTS: Similar to Shrink Wrap Summaries, but more rigorous.
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)
3. Directed Reading:
For a reading that is used as a follow-up to material already discussed in class, answer the following questions:
For a reading that is used as a preview to material to be discussed in class the following day, 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?
- 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?
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.
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 reading 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..)
6. 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.
7. Advance Organizers: There are many ways to use these, depending on your student needs. In addition, advance organizers are an easy way to scaffold instruction over the course of a year, to help students develop their summarizing skills. Create your own summary of the lesson, then insert blanks in place of key words. Have the students complete this during or after the lesson. They can share their responses with a partner to agree to the best answers. As their skills increase, you can intentionally create blanks that have more than one possible answer or have students create the organizers for their classmates.
8. Analysis Matrices and Graphic Organizers: This is similar to advance organizers in that it provides a structure for students to place learned material. However, this method is more about training the students to handle batches of information in a very visual, comparative way. Often formatted as a table, it could list similarities and differences, features or characteristics, or patterns. It could be a flow chart, diagram, word web, wheel and spoke, etc. Create your own table to organize a lesson and then everything but the headers of each column and/or row. The idea is to eventually have students create these tables themselves.
9. Acronyms: Have students list the essential attributes of something you are teaching them, whether it is a concept, cycle, sequences, or system. Next, they should reduce each item in the list to a single key word. Create an acronym out of the initials of each key word. The discussion to create the acronym is as important to learning as the acronym itself!
10. Summary Ball: This is a great one to break up a longer lesson. Toss a ball and whoever catches it has 3 seconds to state any fact recently presented in the lesson. If student can’t think of something from the lesson, he still tosses, but must sit down and is out of play. Continue until only 1 left standing.
11. Chit Chat: Person A talks nonstop for 1 minute in a continuous flow of ideas about anything the teacher just presented or any ideas triggered by that presentation. B does nothing but listen. Then reverse roles but B cannot repeat anything A already said.
12. One-Word Summaries: Can each write one word that summarizes the lesson’s topic, and then explain why they chose that word. Or can debate as a class, and discuss pros/cons.
13. Bingo: Students draw a 9-square grid and fill them with 9 different concepts, facts, or skills they recall. The teacher calls out ideas from the lesson or homework, until someone has BINGO.
14. 9-Square: Like Bingo, except that students read one of their squares. Everyone who had that fact crosses it out. Move around the room until one group crosses out all 9 squares.
15. Exclusion Brainstorming: The teacher writes the word describing the general topic, followed by a series of words or short phrases, only one of which does not fit with topic. Elimiinate the word that doesn’t go, and be able to explain why circled words are connected and why the one word is not. Do a sequence of 5 - 10 of these as a Do Now, a Classroom Pause, or a quick formative assessment at the end of class.
16. Create a body sculpture: Assign each group a topic (can be different or same for all). Groups of students determine the essential attributes of the concept, idea, process, fact, sequence or skill, and then design a frozen tableau using all the group members' bodies in a way that best represents those essentials. Have classmates guess, discuss their reasoning, analyze the body sculptures, and evaluate their accuracy. The discussion within the group while forming the body sculpture, and then afterwards by the class are the most important parts.
17. Triads: The teacher asks Student 1 a question, then Student 2 must give evidence to support or refute what #1 just said, then Student 3 to evaluate the rmerits of the second student said. Then back to Student 1 to make a final rebuttal or comment. Teacher must make sure nothing inaccurate is communicated, call on next student, and pose the first question. Do not react in any other way. Continue with the next question(s) in the same manner.
18. Share One – Get One: Similar to Bingo, students record three different concepts, facts, or skills they recall onto their 9-square grid. Then they get up and move around room asking 6 more classmates to fill in the remaining squares. No repeated ideas. Then write the 9 facts in a sequence, in sentence form, for classwork or homework.19. Luck of the Draw: Pull one name from a “hat” and student presents summary, with class critiquing the summary.
20. Carousel: Post 5 – 6 questions/topics/quotes/prompts on large paper around the room. Each group visits a station, responding continuously for 30 seconds. Rotate to next station, reading and responding to other groups as well as adding original input. Give groups different color markers to use when responding to the questions. Last group summarizes for the class.
21. Pantomime or Charades: Like Body Sculpture, the thought process while creating the pantomime or charade, and then afterwards while guessing are the most important parts.22. Human Bingo: Another variation of Bingo. You need 25-square bingo cards with problems/questions you have made for each square, edible game markers, and students’ names in a box. Kids move about the room collecting classmates' signatures if they can do/solve/respond to the prompt on that square. Owner can only sign center and maybe one other. When complete, teacher calls a name pulled randomly from the box, and put edible markers on space, as called. When someone gets five in a row, Bingo! The winner must read each name in the square along with the prompt, and the person who signed it has to do what they said they could do.
23. Summarization or Narrative Pyramid: 8 horizontal lines in pyramid shape, one question for each line with the length of the response appropriate for the length of the line. (one word for first line, two word response for second line, etc.)
24. Backwards Summaries: Give students a completed example of some task done well. Have them create an alternate version of the product by offering a significant change (what happens if they used a stopwatch instead of a photogate), the outline or concept map from which the draft was created, the experiment from which the report was made, a list of what makes it a good example, the rubric that would be used to grade it, etc.
25. Multiple Intelligences: Many of the things that we think of as major projects or assignments can be treated as quick summarization activities that are truly engaging as 5 - 10 minute "Pauses". You could give a variety of choices to pull in your creative, kinesthetic, interpersonal and other-intelligenced learners. For example: "You have 10 minutes to either create a word web, a brain teaser, a diary entry, or a body metaphor about the Battle of 1776." Students can pair-share, class share, or submit the assignment to the teacher only.
- create a word web
- create a tongue twister
- create a rhyme
- create a crossword puzzle/word search
- create a brain teaser
- create a code
- create a problem
- create a sequence
- design an experiment
- build a model
- make a body metaphor
- create a sports analogy
- draw a cartoon or illustration
- close your eyes and visual a process
- create a jingle
- write lyrics
- interpret music
- write in a blog or journal