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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
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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
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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
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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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96 Comments

  1. elmf

     /  September 27, 2017

    Is there an answer sheet for the summarizing test?

    EXCELLENT worksheets!

    Reply
  2. Benji

     /  August 20, 2017

    Thank you so much!!

    Reply
  3. Rachana

     /  August 2, 2017

    Thank you very much. Bless you!

    Reply
  4. Fe Pablico

     /  June 22, 2017

    Thank you, Mr. Morton, for sharing these materials. Indeed this is of great help in my class.

    Reply
  5. Holly

     /  May 23, 2017

    The materials are awesome!! I’d like to separate them to two levels of my students. I’m teaching international students, the comparasion of the good and bad summary really works a lot.
    I really appriciate for your sharing. However, could you share the summarising answer keys as well? That would help me a lot. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. Jill Cragg

     /  April 16, 2017

    Would you consider making something for the 4th & 5th grade level? The examples were all very helpful, but many of my students read below grade level. Thank you again!
    Jill C.

    Reply
  7. Louis

     /  March 13, 2017

    Thanks from Toronto! Great help for ESL classes here.

    Reply
  8. cameron

     /  February 9, 2017

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

    Reply
  9. saida merad

     /  February 1, 2017

    Thank you for your valuable help!

    Reply
  10. Anita

     /  January 11, 2017

    Thank you for putting all the material together.

    Reply
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. Janat

     /  October 25, 2016

    What is the answer key for summary test please?

    Reply
  14. 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
  15. laxmi

     /  October 21, 2016

    Thank you so much for helpful material

    Reply
  16. Brian Samson

     /  October 20, 2016

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

    Brian

    Reply
  17. Kerry

     /  October 18, 2016

    How amazing to come across your Summarising
    resouces with explicit instructions.
    Your comments about teaching the students how to effectively summarise was the most important fact. This in turn forced me to reflect on my own teaching.
    Thank you for the step by step instructions, they were very valuable.
    Have you posted any other reading strategy hints?

    Reply
  18. Melissa

     /  October 10, 2016

    What’s the reading level for summary worksheet 3?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  19. John stone

     /  October 4, 2016

    Can I get answers for summarizing test about Gutenberg

    Reply
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. Andy

     /  August 29, 2016

    Wow, just wanted to thank you for your hard work and generosity to publish them for everybody. Thank you so much.

    Andy

    Reply
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. Gracie Alexander

     /  May 5, 2016

    Is there an answer key for the Test?

    Reply
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. Sami

     /  March 17, 2016

    This was VERY helpful. Even for a university student who needed a refresher!

    An answer key for the Summary would be helpful if provided.
    And also a whole passage summary, not just the summary for each paragraph.

    THanks

    Reply

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