As SLPs we often have students with recall, sequencing, summarization, and auditory comprehension goals. But how do we address it?! I will share with you my 5 best tips!
What is summarizing?
Summarizing requires students to take what they know from a text read/heard and retell it in their own words. This can be difficult for students with language delays. They can struggle with:
- Comprehending the gist/main ide and significant details of the text
- Ability to identify relevant and irrelevant details
- Memory to recall the text
- Understanding what is expected of them
- Ability to follow directions to complete the task
- Ability to produce complete sentences to produce a summary
- Attending to auditory information
- And more!
As you can see, our students can really struggle with this! But they are still expected to do this skill in their classrooms to demonstrate understanding! They may need to verbally summarize or provide one in written format. Since it is a language task, we can help!
Where to start?
It is important to determine WHY they are struggling! That will help you determine which goal or skill to focus on first. Do some practice, see samples of student work in the classroom, break it down and see where they stumble. Depending on the root of the problem, it will help you to determine which of my 5 tips you should start with…
Help them get the gist of the text and the relevant details that support the main idea
If they don’t know what the whole passage is about, they won’t be able to retell the story in their own words. They won’t be able to determine significant details that are supporting the main idea. I like to teach my students that the main idea is like an umbrella and all the details fall under it. I make it visual for them and provide tons of practice! CLICK HERE to see more about this strategy and resource.
Help them build compensatory strategies
I like to teach my students compensatory strategies to improve their memory. I set up the scene so I know they might not hear correctly (e.g. I will talk too fast) and model them asking for repetition.
Help them work on note-taking strategies
I teach them to use graphic organizers. I teach them to use graphic organizers to write down the main ideas of each paragraph to complete a beginning, middle, and end graphic organizer. Click HERE to learn more about it.
Once they master that, I teach them to use the “somebody-wanted-but-so-then” method for recalling and summarizing fiction texts. I have a free graphic organizer you can grab HERE. For example, if I were to summarize the movie “Shrek,” I would complete the graphic organizer and retell the story with “Shrek WANTED to have peace and quiet on his swamp BUT the fairy tale creatures moved in SO he went to Lord Farquad to get him to remove the fairy tale creatures THEN Shrek went to save Princess Fiona in order to get his swamp back.” You can practice using this strategy using my Summarizing Smiles activity. Learn more by CLICKING HERE. And don’t be afraid to use popular movies to teach this strategy! Click HERE to learn more about this strategy!
Often our students are required to read and comprehend nonfiction texts. The strategy above won’t work with those texts. That is why I use a different graphic organizer with these types of texts. I teach my students to determine the title, author’s purpose, and main idea. We pick out relevant details that support our purpose and main idea. This strategy can be challenging but with practice, your students will be able to do this independently and carry it over into the classroom.
Teach them to identify if a text is fiction or nonfiction
This will help them learn to figure out which type of graphic organizer strategy they should use on their own. It will also help them determine author’s purpose and significant details. It also shows they get the gist of what they passage is about! All of these things are necessary for summarizing!
Help them determine what is a relevant and irrelevant detail
In order to know what details to use in a summary, they need to know what is important. One way I teach this is by providing sample details and I have my students sort them. French Fries containers make this just so much fun.
Another way I teach this is by referring back to the main idea, especially with the umbrella analogy. Does it answer a basic WH question? Bonus….this also helps them predict comprehension questions that can come their way!
Want a bonus tip? Use motivating texts! The more high-interest…the more your students will attend and be motivated to work on this tricky skill! That is why I used high-interest topics in my Nonfiction Summarizing Pack.