This is a lesson I used in the beginning of the year to teach students the difference between summarizing and explaining and model what that looks like in the math classroom.
I'll just make a list of how everything went down.
I started by asking students to do #1 and #2 and then stop.
#1 asks students to look at a car accident and write down what they would say when they called 911.
#2 asked students to write the storyline of a Disney movie.
I asked volunteers to read their 911 calls out loud and we talked about what was important to share: the location, how bad the accident is, how many people are involved and what was not important to share: color of the car, etc. I asked volunteers to read their Disney story and then asked why #2 was longer than #1. Here is where we really started to separate explaining and summarizing.
#3 asks students to summarize their Disney story in 25 words or less. We made that a competition to see who could do it in the least amount of words. Then we discussed how a summary is the "911" version of the storyline.
Right about this time I asked the class if the thought had crossed anyone's mind "What does this have to do with math?" and it was almost an audible sigh of relief for everyone to realize they were thinking the same thing. So I threw out my 'cup of water' analogy about summarizing being a skill that helps seal knowledge into your brain. I also talked about how difficult it is to ask someone for directions who doesn't really know how to get there and the idea that if you can't explain something then you don't have a really good grasp on the concept itself. And we continue on.
#4 asks students to compare explaining and summarizing using a Venn diagram that fortunately, most students were familiar with.
#5 asks students to list the steps of how to explain and how to summarize with the main difference being that an explanation describes step-by-step and a summary describes the main idea.
#6 asks students to apply these skills to math. We explain step-by-step how to solve the problem and then write a summary of how to solve any problem like it. What we are really doing is generalizing, which is a difficult skill for students, but I felt like by separating these two skills that students really got a clear picture of how and why to do both skills.
#7 introduces a new (to me) method for summarizing, PEEL, which applies really well to math.
#8 asks the students to apply this method to a problem on the board (I didn't want to put a problem on the back of the sheet so I just wrote it on the board). I used an area of a rectangle problem where the width is missing because I needed something basic that could apply to all classes. We went through each step of PEEL in the table. When we got to L for link, I explained how the brain creates new dendrites off of old ones so we are always looking for a connection to something we already know.