When teaching my students to summarize, I like to make sure they understand that they just can’t write everything. Have you ever had a student (or even your child) want to just tell you every little detail to the point that you desperately want to start doing this:
I know I have. Since those cute little kiddos can slow you down during a time when you need to move on, it’s best to teach them to summarize with just the most important ideas!
When I teach summarizing, I provide my students first with a regular piece of paper like the blue sheet in the image above. I tell them to summarize the topic we studied (or book read). Then after they have written it, I provide them with a new sheet – the green above. I stress that it’s important to take what they wrote on the blue sheet, but cut it down a bit. I explain it has to fit on this pink sheet so I suggest that they cut out some of the parts that may not be as important to understanding the main idea. Then after they finish that, I once again go a bit smaller and provide the with the smaller green sheet. (At this point they usually wonder just how many more I’m going to give them!) This is when I say, “you know, I really just need the absolutely most important idea.”
When students are finished, we then compare the difference between the three and share. It’s a great way to help students see just how little they need to provide while summarizing.