Summarizing can be tricky for many kids. It is hard for them to not only remember what they saw/read but then to separate the relevant from irrelevant details, and retell everything in the right order. It’s a lot for anyone. So how can we introduce this skill that at first glance appears as daunting as climbing Everest?! I have found a fun little way to help ease my students into this skill without overwhelming them.
I like to tell my students that summarizing is just like telling someone about a movie you saw. You wouldn’t spend hours telling them every single thing, you tell them just the important parts. This helps to put things into perspective. Next, have them talk about something they enjoy: a sport they play, a video game they like, etc and invite them to tell you what happened the last time they did that. What they are done explain how that was summarizing. This helps to build their confidence and shows it is something they can already do, it just may need to be adjust for school. Use you short YouTube clips like THESE to help practice. Have them watch and then either write or verbally summarize what happened. I like to start with these even with my older students. It seems to take the pressure off.
Speaking of older students. They are most likely having to summarize what they read. They look back at all the letters, words, and pages, and instantly start to stress. When summarizing text, try having them focus on the main idea of each paragraph and using that to shape their summary. Use the main idea ( usually first sentence ) of each paragraph to create their summary and then go in and adjust for tense, etc. I like to use the Non-Fiction Passages from Little Red. The topics are interesting and there are tons! While the question portion of the pages may look a bit young at times, I just fold the page over so they don’t see it. You can also use their social studies or science books if you want to tie things into the classroom.
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