Back to Basics: Summarization

Thursday, January 28, 2016
summed up by Suzanne

Have you ever had students that were lacking basic, foundational reading skills?  
Me either!  Okay, tune in next week!

While the skills seem simple, the approach to teaching is can seem lofty and out of reach.  That brings me to this series: Back to Basics.  We will delve into major bedrocks of reading to better understand what it is and how we can work to build these skills in struggling readers.

Summarization might seem like a luxury skills- if you can do it, great (there are two more test questions you'll get right); if you can't, there are probably bigger fish to fry.  But summarization is a real-world skill that enables note taking and retelling.  

For a student who struggles with writing or identifying parts of a summary, the best starting point might be visualization.  This means forming a mental picture to aid in comprehension.  Visualization doesn't have to be a picture.  To practice, a conversation can guide and deepen visualizations.  

Strategy in Action
-Start small, maybe only a sentence- She raced down the sidewalk.
-Ask questions to scaffold- What do her surroundings look like?  What face is she making?
-Draw attention to the stimulus (sentence) to guide and check visualizations. 
-Over time, look to see speed increase as they create imagery.

With a larger text- consider handing students Post-its for specific chunks.  Students will create a mental picture for each chunk.  They can sketch this image on part of their Post-it.  Looking at each picture, choose the most important words and phrases that are associated with the picture.  (Depending on skill level, this might need to be a teach piece.)  They can also use their own words to describe.  Have students sequence their Post-its and retell the story to someone else.

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