Monday, March 21, 2011

Reading Strategies: Summarizing

I've been working with a small group of 3rd graders for about a month now...I don't know their exact reading levels and I kind of like it this way.   From what our Literacy Coach is saying (who is doing a Book Study with other Literacy Coaches on the book Preventing Misguided Reading....strategy groups such as mine are the way guided reading is heading).  We work on a variety of strategies at the same time, but have spent more time on summarizing due to the nature of the strategy itself.  Being able to summarize really takes the prerequisite skills of determining important information and creating inferences (for others to figure out).   So, when teaching the strategy of summarizing to my group, I use the analogy of a camera....because first we must zoom in and find all the details, but then we must use those important details to form a summary.   Two of the activities that we've done lately are GIST statements.  Here is the template for creating 10-word GIST statements, and you can download it here.

And creating bumper stickers....which is a great way to teach summarizing, because you must make your point in only a few words. Ironically, when I said we were going to create bumper stickers to capture the essence of the article...they looked at me like they'd never heard of a bumper sticker before.  When I showed them a picture of the van above, they knew what a bumper sticker was, they'd seen them before on other people's cars or the had one or two on their own cars.  We used this opportunity to talk about how bumper stickers get a short message across in a short amout of time....we can usually only read them when we are stopped behind someone at traffic light, so the message can't be too long, but should be packed with a meaningful message.   The following (real) website to order bumper stickers does a nice job of classifying the different types of bumper stickers.  Cut some cardstock into strips (or use sentence strips) and give students a chance to CREATE a bumper sticker summary of a fiction story's message or lesson OR a non-fiction article's main idea or point. 

Then some bumper stickers like, Think Globally, Act Locally, have some hidden understandings that readers must determine in order to "get" the bumper sticker.

After instruction, GIST Statements and bumper stickers can also be used as formative assessment to who in your class "gets it" and who still needs help.   Here is an example of a Summarizing assessment using Google Forms.   

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