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Summarizing Worksheets and Activities

Summarizing is one of those skills that may seem very easy to a teacher but can be difficult for students who have not been properly taught how to summarize. For many years I did not even teach my seventh and eighth grade students how to summarize. I would just ask them to summarize texts and then get mad at them when they failed to produce quality summaries. I was wrong in doing this. Now I always teach my students how to write summaries.

Writing a good summary is not as easy as it may appear. It actually requires quite a bit of finesse. First the student must read and comprehend the text. This may involve unpacking lengthy sentences and decoding challenging vocabulary. Then they must identify main ideas and key points, which means that they must have a good enough understanding of the text to distinguish between essential and nonessential information. Finally they must express this information in their own words. This means that summarizing a text requires both comprehension and expression skills. Additionally, as per the Common Core State Standards, summaries should not contain opinions, background knowledge, or personal information; rather, a summary should be entirely text based. After years of learning to make connections between the text and themselves, students must be retrained to keep themselves out of their writing in regards to summaries. Teaching this skill surely warrants some of your class time.


Here are some resources that I used in my classroom to teach my students how to summarize. I hope that you find this page useful:

Summarizing Lesson – Here is an animated PowerPoint slideshow teaching students how to summarize. It includes definitions, example paragraphs, and a simple review activity using nursery rhymes.
Summarizing Lesson PowerPoint

Summary and Main Idea Worksheet 1 – Students will read four nonfiction paragraphs about trains. They will highlight or underline important information in each passage, write a title for the passage related to its main idea, and create a summary.
Summary and Main Idea Worksheet 1 RTF
Summary and Main Idea Worksheet 1 PDF
Summary and Main Idea Worksheets 1 Preview
View Answers

Summary and Main Idea Worksheet 2 – My students loved reading these four nonfiction passages about ninjas and I hope yours do too. This worksheet will give students practice identifying main ideas and writing summaries.
Summary and Main Idea Worksheet 2 RTF
Summary and Main Idea Worksheet 2 PDF
Summary and Main Idea Worksheet 2 Preview
View Answers

Summary Worksheet 3 – Students read a long passage about the lost colony of Roanoke, highlight or underline important information, and summarize each paragraph.
Summary Worksheet 3 RTF
Summary Worksheet 3 PDF
Summary Worksheet 3 Preview
View Answers

Summarizing Practice – Here is a PowerPoint slideshow with four practice passages. We read each passage twice as a class, and then I give students time to create summaries. We then share and discuss our answers. This is a great way to practice as a group.
Summarizing Practice PPT

Summarizing Review 1 – In this PowerPoint slideshow I review student responses to the summarizing practice activity. We discuss the responses as a class before I reveal my estimations of each response. I suggest you substitute my students’ responses for yours, but you can use mine too if you want.
Summarizing Review 1 PPT

Summarizing Review 2 – Here’s another PowerPoint slideshow that I use to help my students better understand how to create summaries. This summary is connected to summary and main idea worksheet 2. We look at good examples of summaries and some examples that need improvements. Again, it might prove more helpful to switch my students responses with yours, but this can still serve a purpose as is.
Summarizing Review 2 PPT

Summarizing Test – Evaluate your students ability to summarize with this test. Students read a long passage about Johannes Gutenberg, highlight important information in the text, summarize each paragraph, answer multiple choice questions, and create extended responses.
Summarizing Test RTF
Summarizing Test PDF
Summarizing Test Preview

 

Common Core State Standards Related to Summarizing

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 – Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Expand to View All Common Core State Standards Related to Summarizing
ELA Standards: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.2 – With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.2 – Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.2 – Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.2 – Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.2 – Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2 – Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2 – Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.2 – Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2 – Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2 – Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2 – Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

ELA Standards: Informational Text

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.2 – With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.2 – Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.2 – Identify the main topic of a multiparagraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.2 – Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.2 – Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.2 – Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.2 – Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.2 – Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.2 – Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 – Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.2 – Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

View Source
Common Core Lesson and Unit Plans
Understanding Common Core State Standards

 

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63 Comments

  1. Louis

     /  March 13, 2017

    Thanks from Toronto! Great help for ESL classes here.

    Reply
  2. cameron

     /  February 9, 2017

    Thanks so much from Istanbul! Kids loved it and saved me so much precious precious time

    Reply
  3. saida merad

     /  February 1, 2017

    Thank you for your valuable help!

    Reply
  4. Anita

     /  January 11, 2017

    Thank you for putting all the material together.

    Reply
  5. Nora Diaz

     /  December 9, 2016

    I couldn’t find the answers for the Summarizing Test. They will surely save me some time. Please send them to me, or let me know where I can find them. Thank you so much,

    Reply
  6. Tina

     /  November 28, 2016

    Thank you for all the great materials to use, they will prove to be a great resource!

    I was wondering if you would mind pointing out the source from which you pulled the information about ninjas for your worksheet on them. I just wanted to make sure I had the right information because from the bit of research that I pulled up, I see that both in history (concept / existence) and etymology, ninjas are Japanese. The Japanese use kanji, which are essentially Chinese characters, and is only one of the three different “alphabet” sets they use for written communication. So words like “shinobi” and “shinobi no mono” are all Japanese in origin, but written using Chinese characters and not really associated with Chinese culture. This is especially true because “no mono” is a Japanese phrase.
    Please let me know if there is a source that does say otherwise, so that I can have all the information. Thank you again!

    Reply
    • Hello. I pulled that content from a Wikipedia page a long time ago. I’m no expert on the subject. I was just writing a worksheet that I hope would interest students.

      Reply
  7. Janat

     /  October 25, 2016

    What is the answer key for summary test please?

    Reply
  8. M. Pabalan

     /  October 24, 2016

    Thanks a million for this Mr. Morton. This lesson will help me and my students understand summarizing better. God bless your sir!

    Reply
  9. laxmi

     /  October 21, 2016

    Thank you so much for helpful material

    Reply
  10. Brian Samson

     /  October 20, 2016

    What a phenomenal effort you’ve done in putting together all these. Appreciate your ideas. Fabulous!

    Brian

    Reply
  11. Vinod

     /  September 10, 2016

    It is an awesome sight.I got to now today from where the school gives us topics in worksheets.Very useful,but one problems that we don’t get the answers of the questions so that we can check and correct our answers

    Reply
  12. Mary Jane Dela Cerna

     /  September 3, 2016

    Good day Mr. Morton 😀 what is the answer keys for the summary test? I am not sure in my answer 😀

    Reply
  13. Dawn

     /  July 25, 2016

    I was studying for an exam and couldn’t find enough information on summarizing. I was very excited when I found your site. It was very helpful.Thanks a million!

    Reply
  14. Pam

     /  June 11, 2016

    A terrific resource. Thank you so much for sharing. I came across your site as I was looking for help with teaching summarising – no need to look any further! Powerpoint and practice sheets, examples …. awesome.

    Reply
  15. Gracie Alexander

     /  May 5, 2016

    Is there an answer key for the Test?

    Reply
  16. Kristen Moore

     /  April 12, 2016

    What an incredible site! Thank you for sharing your resources and ideas. Especially the Summary power point. I’ve been struggling to get my students to differentiate between a summary and a list of details. This will help so much!

    Reply
  17. Amy Gartland

     /  March 29, 2016

    I just discovered this site today. I teach high school ELL and was looking for good nonfiction texts that were accessible for my students. I will definitely be looking around some more and plan on using material in my lessons this week!

    Reply
  18. Jennifer Basham

     /  March 7, 2016

    By the way, do you have the answer key for the test?

    Reply
  19. Treesa

     /  March 1, 2016

    Thank you… It helped me a lot!!!!

    Reply
  20. Treesa

     /  March 1, 2016

    BIG THANK YOU!!!! Awesome material…

    Reply
  21. Megan Johnson

     /  December 9, 2015

    Would you happen to have the answer key for the test?

    Reply
  22. Ngaire Booth

     /  November 24, 2015

    Thank you for your hard work and generosity. It is such a relief to find such wonderful resources that can easily be adapted to our Australian curriculum.

    Reply
  23. Jamie Williams

     /  October 25, 2015

    First, THANK YOU! As a high school intensive reading teacher, I create all of my own curricula. Your website is a life saver!

    In regards to your Summarizing Test – are you referring to a specific “long passage” about Johannes Gutenberg, if so, can you provide me with a link to the passage? Will you be supplying an answer key for the test?

    Reply
  24. NSalazar

     /  October 13, 2015

    This has being helpful. Thank you for your time. It is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  25. kathy cuttonaro

     /  September 2, 2015

    Thank you

    Reply
  26. kathy cuttonaro

     /  September 2, 2015

    Thank you for the samples of summaries. You have made my day.

    Reply
  27. navod

     /  June 7, 2015

    omg thank you so much !! this thing helped me alot in my annual exam and this helped me to improve 🙂 can you give me some note making worksheets for grade eight

    Reply
  28. SantaCruzSuz

     /  May 21, 2015

    I found this website yesterday while preparing for one of my private tutorials—wow!!! This is truly an amazing resource! I hardly ever leave replies on websites, but I just had to say THANK YOU SO MUCH! It’s the best resource that I’ve found on summarizing to be used in a tutorial setting. Explicit, yet succinct, and the examples are VERY helpful, especially the examples of what NOT to do when you’re summarizing!

    Reply
  29. Miss Allison

     /  March 18, 2015

    I love your worksheets for sixth graders. I have used some of every topic while preparing for our common core state test. Thanks for doing the work that I didn’t have time to do!!!!!!

    Reply
  30. kacey b

     /  March 18, 2015

    Thank you! Used these today in my class here in Tanzania- not a lot of textbook resources available and these were great. You’re right- kids do love ninjas.

    Reply
  31. Person McDude

     /  February 13, 2015

    The worksheet (Summary and Main Idea worksheet 2) on ninjas incorrectly labels the Japanese language as Chinese, and mentions China instead of Japan even though it later mentions the Edo period. While many east Asian cultures share similar words and practices, ninjas are from Japan.

    Reply
    • I am not knowledgeable enough on the topic to give you a satisfying response. Thanks for your input.

      Reply
      • Brandon

         /  February 17, 2017

        Thank you for your materials. Very helpful with some of my ESL classes. As to the ninja worksheet, it is incorrectly identified as China. I live and teach in China and speak Chinese. The article is entirely about Japan and even uses Japanese characters, not Chinese.

        Reply
  32. Mr. Odin

     /  January 30, 2015

    Hey, I just wanted to say thanks for all this stuff! It’s been a significant help to my kids.

    The 2nd summary worksheet, however, is entirely incorrect about ninjas, though. “Shinobi no mono” is purely Japanese, and the “swirl” symbol between the two kanji (full Chinese symbols) is the Japanese possessive marker “no” in Hiragana, a uniquely Japanese script.

    “Ninja” is a Japanese bastardization of the Mandarin Chinese “ren zher,” which meant “hidden one.”

    Now my Japanophile students will get off my back. Thanks again!

    Reply
  33. Shah

     /  January 28, 2015

    I have been using your materials for teaching since 2014. Thank you so much for making them available to all of us teachers.

    Reply
  34. smith

     /  January 16, 2015

    I have been using this site since my 1st year of teaching. I always find something I can use for my 3rd graders. The power points are my favorite, especially the ones that are interactive. I certainly appreciate the hard work and resources.
    Thank you!!

    Reply
  35. Jaecon

     /  January 10, 2015

    I really like your website. It helps me a lot in my assignments. More power! It’s great!

    Reply
  36. Heidi

     /  December 10, 2014

    This website is a God-send! I just discovered it today and I’m able to use so much of this for my Intervention groups! So excited!

    Reply
  37. Molly

     /  October 23, 2014

    This is an amazing resource, thank you so much for putting so much time and effort into it, your work is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  38. Elizabeth Meissner

     /  September 21, 2014

    Thank you so much! I will use this site all year for guided practice. It has saved me hours.

    Reply
  39. Tami

     /  September 19, 2014

    This website is a life saver

    Reply
  40. Sheila

     /  August 25, 2014

    Awesome site! Very helpful worksheets, will you be able to post the answers.
    Thank you for sharing

    Reply
  41. Joanie

     /  June 24, 2014

    this is so helpful.. I am tutoring a middle school student who can benefit, hopefully, from this. It looks great. Thank-you

    Reply
  42. Rehana

     /  May 22, 2014

    Thanks so much – very useful

    Reply
  43. Sapphire

     /  May 16, 2014

    It Helped :3

    Reply
  44. Abubakr

     /  April 9, 2014

    Thanks alot for your help.

    Reply
  45. Bre

     /  April 1, 2014

    Can you post the answers to the worksheets?

    Reply
    • I have the answer keys.
      I just don’t have the time to post them currently.

      I will update them this summer.
      I promise.

      Best wishes,

      Morton

      Reply
  46. I love these worksheets you’ve created. I would like more answer keys posted so I can compare my key to yours. However, I appreciate the resource and materials you’ve shared with everyone! Thank You.

    Reply
    • I have the keys…
      I just need the time to post them.

      I will do that this summer.
      I promise, pinky swear even.

      Reply
  47. Kittiya

     /  February 27, 2014

    Thank you so much for your kindness.

    Reply
  48. C. Badgett

     /  February 3, 2014

    Wow! I just fell upon this website today and I am in HEAVEN! The level of the material is challenging, matches the CC exactly and the passages for quick enough for tons of mini-lessons! I love it! Great job!

    Reply
  49. Ahmad Ahsan

     /  January 4, 2014

    power point slides are very helpful for me thanks,,,, 🙂

    Reply

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