Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘summarizing’

“Somebody Wanted But So” makes your kids smarter

I’ve been spending a ton of time this summer working with groups around the country, helping facilitate conversations around reading and writing in the social studies.

It’s always a good day when I get the chance to sit with social studies teachers, sharing ideas and best practice, talking about what works and what doesn’t. And the cool thing is that I always walk away smarter because teachers are super cool about sharing their favorite web site or tool or handy strategy.

This week was no different. I learned about a simple but powerful summarizing strategy called Somebody Wanted But So.

Summarizing is a skill that I think we sometimes take for granted. We ask our kids to read or watch something and expect them to just be able to remember the content and apply it later during other learning activities. We can easily get caught up in the Curse of Knowledge, assuming that because we know how to summarize and organize information, everyone does too.

But our students often need Read more

Cube Creator

Several years ago, I wrote a quick Tip of the Week highlighting a handy graphic organizer called Cubing. It was basically an easy way to ask kids to think about a specific topic using a variety of cognition levels or to help them summarize their thinking after reading and before writing.

At the time, I provided a simple cube template that you could print out and use with your kids. And you can still use the template, it still works.

But thanks to my new buddy at Tracie’s Favorite Places via #sschat, I was introduced to a cool tool that can help you and your kids use the cubing graphic organizer idea in new ways.

Read more

Tim Bailey – Cool Beans Primary Source Summarizer

Tim Bailey is good.

He was the 2009 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year. He teaches at Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake City. He’s written several books for Scholastic that provide some great primary source teaching activities.

And the awesome thing is that he’s here in Hutchinson working with our Century of Progress teachers.

One of the participants put it quite nicely when she said:

Cool beans.

Exactly.

Today he’s sharing an activity that helps kids analyze and summarize primary source documents. I’m gonna try and explain how you can use it, because . . . well, it’s cool beans.

It’s a multi-step process that takes some time but the end result is a kid who can look at document and develop a summary in their own words.

Start with a short document and paste it into a graphic organizer like the one above. Put kids in groups of two or three and ask each kid to select ten words from passage. A couple of rules – no words they don’t understand, no more or less than 10. Pulling the keywords from the text is the crux of the exercise – it’s what the writer actually means.

Once each kid highlights their own ten words, each small  group must negotiate a set of ten for their group. You can then lead a discussion with the whole class to get a sense of what sorts of words the different groups selected. Give each group the chance to re-do their list if the choose.

Each group then uses these ten words to write their summary. To do this, they can use just the word bank of their 10 words. They are allowed to use “connecting” words but otherwise can’t go off the list. They also don’t have to use all of their 10 words. The goal is to create a summary that should be no more than 1/3 of the original text,

Kids share out their summary, including the number of words. The teacher should help guide kids to better understand this particular part of the project. The final step is to ask kids to re-write the summery in their own words – “in plain, old English.”

The first time you do this, the goal is not so much a clear document analysis but an understanding of the process. Doing this several times will solidify the process so that you can begin to hand kids documents and they’ll be able to do this themselves.

A couple of tips:

1. Model the steps for your kids. Literally do a think-aloud so that kids can hear you think through the process.

2. Use smaller documents or small chunks of documents the first few times through the process.

3. You may need to do some vocabulary work before you start this process to clarify specific words in the document.

4. Not a tip but a question. Could you do this somehow with maps? Photos?

As I watched Tim work through the process with project teachers this morning, I saw how powerful this summarizing tool could be for history students.

Cool beans, indeed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend