Summarizing Strategies for Speech

Do you have students that are struggling to recall and retell stories in their own words? Do you have students with summarizing goals and you have no idea how to address it differently than it might be already addressed in the classroom?

When it comes to summarizing, our students (especially our older students) have already been exposed to summarizing, and they are expected to do it in the classroom. They might have used an anchor chart, they might have used a graphic organizer, they might have used some sort of note-taking strategy, but none of it is sticking. When it comes to our speech and language students, we have to think about why they are struggling. Is it the memory piece? Is it the comprehension piece? Is it the processing piece and they cant filter out extra information? Is it the syntax? Is it the sentence structure? Is it the vocabulary? What aspect is it that is holding them back from demonstrating what they understand and know?

When trying to figure out what skills they are missing to help them be able to summarize successfully, I like to start with the main idea and see if they are at least able to tell me a word or two describing what it is about. Next, I like to look at the memory piece to see if they are able to remember what they just heard, watched, or saw. I like to take all these pieces to help me find out why they are struggling and then I can figure out a way that I can help them compensate for those difficulties. One of my favorite ways to do that is with this free tool that can be found in my TPT store. When I start out with retelling a fictional text I like to use the strategy (somebody, wanted, but, so, then).

I always like to start with movies or fairy tales or something that I know they have seen before. One of my favorite movies to start with to teach how to use this strategy and this chart is the movie Shrek. An example of how you would fill out the chart for Shrek could be: Shrek wanted a peaceful swamp but the fairy tale creatures took over the swamp so he went to Lord Farquad to ask for his swamp back and then Lord Farquad sent him to go rescue Princess Fiona in order to get his swamp back.

I like to start with something like this Shrek example and then I let them tell one of their favorite shows or movies using the same format. As my students practice this strategy, I help them pick out the relevant and irrelevant information. Sometimes I even like to play a game with my students where I fill out the chart and then they have to guess the movie. Or another thing I like to do with them is to see if they can identify if I am summarizing the movie right or wrong or am I doing a good summary or a bad summary. My students always have a lot of fun with this.

When teaching this strategy, I always start with content they know and teach them to identify different pieces they are looking for in a summary. You have to teach them how to listen for the different items in somebody, wanted, if, so, then. We can’t just assume that our kids know how to identify these items. Chances are that they don’t know what to look for when identifying them on their own because if they did they would be able to fill out graphic organizers successfully in the classroom. For some reason, it’s not sticking in the classroom and in speech, we have that ability to work at their pace and work towards their needs and not just rush through a curriculum. Another thing I have found helpful is that whenever I am introducing a strategy like using a graphic organizer, I always do it in the I do, we do, you do format so that I can model my thinking and help them with theirs.

You can use this same strategy with anything you and your students are using to work on summarizing. I have used these graphic organizers as we are doing an Edpuzzle, reading a passage, watching a video, etc. You can use just this graphic organizer or I also have a Summarizing Stories BOOM Deck which uses the same format. It starts with a story and then and then the graphic organizer. I always tell my kids before we start that we are not going to use this graphic organizer as a quiz afterwards but rather we are going to work on it throughout the story. When you do it at the end it becomes a memory activity and we may have students who are struggling with the memory piece. I tell them that as we are reading, we need to listen for the somebody, wanted, if, so, then. I then break it down even further and give them one thing to focus on such as we are listening for the main character, or what were they trying to achieve, what was the problem? We have to teach them to listen for what they need and filter out the other stuff. As they get to the info they are looking for they will tell you to stop so that you can fill it in.

When I use this activity with my students we bounce back and forth between the story and the graphic organizer. As they hear or read an answer we go fill it in and then go back to the story to look for the next thing. I like to do it this way because it is really focusing on the summarizing skill instead of memory like it would be if I waited till the end of the story to fill it in.

As SLP's we have expertise that can help our students learn how to compensate for areas they struggle in. We can help them build their confidence and learn to be successful. And we can show them that learning can be fun!

If you want to learn more you can check out the video below and the resources I mentioned for engaging, no-prep and low-prep activities to use with your students this week!