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Summarize Information

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20 Best-practices
Reading Strategies
A summary is a short statement -- usually a few sentences -- that gives the main ideas of a selection. A summary does not include all of the details as in a retelling. The essence of summary is that it is brief; it literally focuses on the key ideas of the text. Readers condense information into a brief summary of key ideas to reveal their level of comprehension. In order to summarize a text, readers filter out less significant or repetitious details, identify a general term for a list of specific details, combine ideas into a broad category, and create a topic sentence.

Questions that help students summarize information:

  • What do you think is the BIG IDEA of this article? Of this paragraph?
  • What two words would you use to describe the “gist” of the paragraph? selection?
  • When students read, they think about what most of the sentences are describing. Is there one sentence that describes the main idea for this topic?
  • What was the focus of this reading selection?
  • How can you condense the information described in this article using key ideas?
  • Which details were most significant? Which details were less significant?


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