This activity clearly teaches students a formula for precis writing. The first two handouts offer an explanation of what a precis is and when to use one, as well as a generic (fill in the blank) basic structure for a precis. There is also a short (appropriate) satirical article from The Onion for the students to read and a sample precis written about that article.
Once students have learned and practiced this structure you can ask that they write precis on various pieces throughout the year (short articles, TED talks, research documents, etc.).