A summary should be a condensed (shorter) version of a larger reading. You often see examples of everyday use of summaries when you want to know more about a television show or movie, or when you look over the back cover of a book to see if you want to read it. However, you will also see them used in academic circles – for example when you want to know if you might find a particular journal article useful for a research paper, you will take a look at the abstract.
Writing a summary can be a very useful learning tool. At first, a summary will take you awhile to write, but with practice you can get pretty efficient with them. Summarizing has been found to help students clarify what is important in a reading, become familiar with a variety of structures used to effectively communicate in writing, review essential terminology, and generally make sense of the text. (MARZANO)
In-Class Exercise: Summaries
Read the summaries written by previous students. One is labeled “Strong Summary” and two are labeled “Weak Summary.” Answer the following questions in complete sentences and paragraphs (when appropriate).
- Make two lists: One listing the qualities or traits of Strong Summaries, and the other listing the qualities or traits of Weak Summaries.
- What is the purpose of writing summaries? How can they be useful to us as learners?
- Keeping in mind the purpose of a summary, identify and define the traits a summary should have. Explain how these traits make it strong and useful to a learner?