The three structures recommended by Dean et al. (2012) for summarizing are rule-based strategies, summary frames, and engagement in reciprocal teaching. Students practice removing irrelevant or repetitive information, replace lists of things with one summative term, and find or create a topic sentence for a passage when learning rule-based summarizing strategies. Dean et al. (2012) describes a teacher thinking aloud, as she has her class collaborate on applying the rule-based strategies. Students get support extracting the key points from a text through using summary frames. A summary frame is custom designed for the type of text studied, and developmental level of readers. The final summary structure highlighted by Dean et al. (2012) is reciprocal teaching. This strategy is used primarily with expository text. To practice the reciprocal strategy a teacher facilitates the division of students into four roles of summarizer, questioner, clarifier and predictor. As students collaborate to act out these roles, they gain understanding of the key points of a text. Teachers can facilitate small groups for reciprocal teaching that are composed of students complimentary learning styles, temperaments, or abilities.
After reading about various summarizing strategies, I reflected on how I might adapt these structures for the mixed-age, kindergarten/first grade class I taught last year. I think these summarizing strategies lend themselves effectively to readers’ workshop, or a lesson that requires a collaborative reading of a text. While reading aloud last year, I would ask students to tell me what the book was about. Also, I would think aloud sometimes about whether or not an element of a text was essential to the key idea. Often, this would encourage students to engage in a summary of the text. I initially felt that the summary strategies presented by Dean et al. (2012) were too advanced for kindergarten and first grade students. As an intern, I did not use any consistent form of the summarizing strategies offered. But after discussing various adaptations with cohort mates who teach early primary grades as well, I realized that it is effective practice to introduce rule-based strategies, summary frames, and reciprocal teaching with appropriate supports for emergent readers and writers. Furthermore, I can see how having consistent structured practices for summarizing texts could lend itself to students initiating this practice independently.
In my future teaching, I would like to create anchor charts that are visually fun and engaging to support students in memorizing the rules for summarizing a text. I would also like to create a library of summary frames that have fun images to help students learn how to record the key components of a story. Finally, I would like to engage students in reciprocal teaching by modeling the roles, and scaffolding the process. Counter to what I believed before reading the literature on structured summary strategies, I believe teaching these skills to emergent readers and writers will help build a solid foundation for excellent study skills as students are assigned more complex texts to distill.
Dean, C.B. Hubbell, E.R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. J. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA. ASCD.
Pitler, H., & Stone, B.J. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA. ACSD.