1. Post-It Summaries
In this strategy, students take a large chunk of text, perhaps from a textbook or from an article and place post-it notes in the margin, they write in their own thoughts, summaries, or questions they have about what they are reading.
This process can be made more involved by adding symbols and specific tasks. For the nonfiction book “Stiff”, by Mary Roach, students are required to include post-its in the margins with a symbol.
For example, the question mark indicates where the reader had a question. A star symbol on the post-it would indicate something about the text that grabbed their attention. At the end of the assignment, post it notes are gathered and taped to paper (to turn in) and students finish with a timed writing exercise. The full assignment can be seen at “Stiff by Mary Roach
For example, the question mark indicates where the reader had a question. A star symbol on the post-it would indicate something about the text that grabbed their attention. At the end of the assignment, post it notes are gathered and taped to paper (to turn in) and students finish with a timed writing exercise. The full assignment can be seen at “Stiff by Mary Roach“.
Post-its can be used in the same way for student textbooks, articles or other basic reading material you area already using in your class. It is not necessary to go buy a classroom set of a nonfiction book.
2. Pair and Share
You have probably heard this phrase before, though context vary the general idea is usually the same. In this case, take an article or section of reading and ask students to work on their own to write down THREE MAIN POINTS of the text. Then they compare their three points with the person sitting next to them, and are asked to discuss between the two which is the most important point. The pairs are then to combine or alter their original three points into a single MAIN IDEA. As an extension, you can then expand by asking them to share all the single points with the class and decide as a class what is the main idea of the text.
In this strategy, ask students to read text that they can write on, like a news articles or copies of texts. Ask them to highlight areas of the text that are confusing to them. As a class (or in small groups), discuss why the text is confusing, and model strategies for figuring out what the author means. Modeling reading strategies is something teachers rarely do with students, as we assume they come to us with reading skills. However, you may notice that students can read the words, but often don’t understand what they are reading. Model the text by reading it out loud, skipping over words that you aren’t sure about and making guesses about what the words (or phrases) mean within the context of the text. You would be surprised how many students give up reading the text entirely when they encounter a phrase or word they don’t understand. Reassure students that even adult, college-educated readers stumble over difficult texts, but can still get the jist of what the author was trying to say.
4. Cause and Effect
Create a table with CAUSE in one column and EFFECT in another. Ask students to identify causes and effects from the text they are reading. This may not work for all reading assignments but can be modified. For instance, in a science class you might instead use procedure/outcome or hypothesis / data / conclusions or fact / opinion. The chart method does rely heavily on you determining what headings work best for the particular reading, so this one may require some advance planning.
5. Concept Mapping
Concept mapping has been a favorite strategy of mine in advanced biology class because it forces students to think of difficult ideas in nonlinear ways. They must first decide what are the main ideas, then connect the main ideas to small support details and show how all the concepts relate to each other. In this sample, students read text about DNA and created a concept map. While this is not exactly a summary, it does require students to synthesize and organize information, and the main ideas of implied in the map’s main concepts, linked from the center. Students can use concept maps to organize a news article they read or information in their textbook. There are many programs (www.gliffy.com) out there to assist students with mapping and it is a good idea to model concept mapping on the board before assigning one.