Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Less is more? Teaching students to summarise

Summarising a piece of text is a skill that students will need time and time again throughout their school life and beyond. Help them develop this skill with these two simple activities to teach summarising skills to pupils of any age group.

Activity 1. 'In a nutshell...'

'In a nutshell...' requires students to read a story or piece of text of your choice and then retell it in 25 words. Once students have reduced the text to 25 words, they then reduce the summary to a three word headline.

The activity provides an opportunity for students to concentrate on the main ideas of a text. It demonstrates to pupils that recording small details can prompt them to remember a good deal of information. Pupils will also see the need to ignore unimportant information, and evaluate whether they have captured the gist of the text.

You can download this task's worksheet for free here.

Activity 2. Word Splash!

This activity requires you to select ten key words from the text you'd like your students to summarise. Give students a copy of the text, write the ten words up on the board and tell the pupils they are going to write a paragraph summarising the story. They must use all the words on the board.

A limit of words can be given, a paragraph of no more than 50 words to summarise the text, for example.

The Wordsplash activity is a great way to differentiate for students who might struggle with 'In a nutshell...'. It's not as challenging, as students have more words to summarise the story with and the support of the key words on the board, but it still helps focus students on capturing the main ideas of the text.

If you are a subscriber to our magazine, you'll recognise these activities from one of our recent project plans. They were created by the fabulous Jane Jones, who designs all of our spectacular cross curricular projects. Don't miss out - subscribe to Creative Teaching and Learning today!

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