Have you ever asked your students to summarize what was read and they retell the whole story almost word for word? Or, you get the complete opposite and they give you almost nothing? When we ask our students to summarize, we want them to pull out main ideas, focus on key details, and give us the bare essentials. Summarizing is a comprehension strategy that must be taught and practiced. It is a difficult strategy for students to grasp and it is equally as difficult to teach.
Here are a few suggestions for school:
1. For intermediate grades, compare it to texting on a cell phone. When texting a message you are limited to a certain number of characters. See if the children are able to summarize what they want to say in a "text box".
2. Use an invitation as a guide. Have students identify only Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
3. Take an article from a newspaper or magazine, or use a short story. Do not read the title, only the selection. Read it to your students and have them write headlines for each excerpt read.
As always, after teaching this strategy at school, provide lots of practice and encourage parent participation by sending the Parent Pipeline home.