Stumbling across the Copy Paste: Dedicated to relinquishing responsibility for learning to student, I found a topic that I recently have been studying – Summarization. How to Teach Summarizing: A Critical Learning Skill for Students reinforces a dialogue I have been having with myself as I read and study Rick Wormeli’s book Summarization in Any Subject. It is evident how difficult it is for school age readers and adults alike to summarize what they know in a few words. Just think how difficult it at times when someone asks us directions from point A to B! For people like me it is a challenge at times especially if I have never articulated it before or I don’t have a lot of prior knowledge about the surrounding area that located at either point A or B. It is most definitely a skill that has to be polished and we too often assume our kids in our classrooms can do it. Summarizing ranks high in Bloom Taxonomy! Think about summarization can be the equivalent to creating new knowledge. Without the background support or the prior knowledge, it is definitely a challenge.
Recently I observed a teacher who asked her student to be ready to summarize what they read ( and realizing I had done the same thing to kids). Some of the kids did okay but missing the big ideas and other read the text to the class. The impact of watching kids struggle led me to Rick Wormeli’s book. It is easy to forget how it is so important to model all that we ask our kids to do. Summarizing has to be modeled through strategies, aloud, graphic organizers, anchor charts, etc.
“Imagine how a student feels when asked to summarize a textbook passage for the teacher. In effect they have been asked to summarize one expert’s writing for delivery to another expert – the teacher. “…and remember, be sure to use your own words!” from How to Teach Summarizing: A Critical Learning Skill for Students .
It is a very difficult task for a child to figure out what the teacher wants in a summary. Some may find it naturally while other struggle.
Some points to remember:
· Students must learn multiple strategies /methods of summarizing. It must be practiced and must be taught that it is okay to refine one’s thinking as important information warrants.
· Each person’s background knowledge and experience with shape the summary he creates.
· Having students read a cold text without prior knowledge or little familiarity and then write a summary does little for helping the student understand the text. Don’t have student reading a text without providing prior knowledge or setting a purpose for reading terms they can make connections with text.
· Students summarize best for those text structures with which they are familiar: compare/contrast, chronological, enumeration, cause and effect, problem and solution, story narrative.
· Kids need to be taught to follow clues for meaning.
All in all my point is that summarizing is valuable tool and needs to be taught and practiced for real reasons. Just like my earlier example of giving directions from point A to B. When the directions a purposeful, more intent in creating the correct directions and the more intend that the audiences has in listening.
What are thoughts about teaching summarizing in the content area?
How important is summarizing?
What are some of your best teaching summarizing strategies?