COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS BASIS:
Beginning in Grade 6, the Reading standards for Informational Texts, the Reading History, and Reading Science and Technology standards call for students to build their capacities to “provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.” This competency is an outgrowth of the earlier standards which ask students to determine main ideas, provide summaries of details, and explain how they support the main ideas. Thus, the summarizing standards beginning in the six grade emphasize students growing their abilities to objectively, accurately, and efficiently summarize texts’ main ideas and the major reasons or ideas that support the main idea. While summarizing is but one small aspect of a student’s total reading skill-set, students often struggle to keep their summaries devoid of their opinions or biases, struggle to identify the over-arching main idea(s) of texts, and often confuse minor supporting details and evidence with major reasons and ideas that support the main idea.
WHAT IS INCLUDED:
Teacher plans, student reference sheet and assignment guide, sample article summary (with accompanying article), and Newspaper Article Summary Rubric are all included!
THE BENEFITS OF THIS ASSIGNMENT:
Students can gain confidence in themselves as readers, writers, and students as a result of learning and practicing these summaries.
Doing repeated summaries enables students to be become stronger readers. Repeatedly summarizing newspaper and magazine articles transfers into an improved ability to read informational texts of all sorts for other classes.
THE CHALLENGES OF THIS ASSIGNMENT:
The main challenge for teachers with this assignment is in choosing how to use it! There are so many good possibilities that it can be overwhelming. Writing article summaries can be a stand-alone activities or first-steps in research projects or gathering information for more complex compositions.
These assignments can be structured so that teachers do not have to review each summary thoroughly in an attempt to mark everything that is wrong. Rather, if a teacher makes article summaries a regular part of the class work, each student’s summary can be used to set “next time” goals as an area in which that individual student could improve his/her writing. By doing so, teachers can focus their grading on looking for evidence of progress toward the individualized goals and assigning a grade for that progress (as opposed assigning a grade based on a single criterion-reference standard against which all students are judged). This has the dual benefit of (1) encouraging students to do more reading and writing without worry of a penalty for not being as advanced as other students and (2) not requiring a huge amount of grading for the instructor.