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Summarizing Worksheets & 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.

How To Summarize a Text
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. This activity is a great way to start your unit on summary.
This is a preview image of Summarizing Lesson. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Summarizing Worksheet 1
Here is a worksheet to help students practice summarizing. Read four nonfiction paragraphs about trains, highlight or underline important information, and write a title for the passage related to its main idea. Then create a summary.
This is a preview image of Summarizing Worksheet 1. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Summarizing Worksheet 2
My students loved reading these four nonfiction passages about ninjas. In this summarizing worksheet, students read the passages, summarize the content, and express the main idea of each passage.
This is a preview image of Summarizing Worksheet 2. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Summarizing Worksheet 3
Here's another activity to give your students practice summarzing nonfiction texts. Students read a long passage about the lost colony of Roanoke, highlight or underline important information, and summarize each paragraph.
This is a preview image of Summarizing Worksheet 3. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Summarizing Practice Activity
Here is a PowerPoint slideshow with four practice passages. Read each passage twice as a class, and then give students time to create summaries. I have them work individually but you could do pairs or small groups too. Then share and discuss their summaries.
This is a preview image of Summarizing Practice Activity. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Summarizing Review Lesson
Here is a PowerPoint slideshow to help students review summarizing. The lesson looks at example summaries from the Summarizing Practice activity and considers how these responses could be improved.
This is a preview image of Summarizing Review Lesson. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Summarizing Review Lesson 2
Here is a PowerPoint slideshow to help students review summarizing. The lesson looks at example summaries from the Summarizing Practice activity and considers how these responses could be improved.
This is a preview image of Summarizing Review Lesson 2. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Summarizing Test
Here is a test to help you evaluate your students' ability to summarize. Students read a long passage about Johannes Gutenberg and highlight important information in the text. Then they summarize each paragraph, answer multiple-choice questions, and create extended responses.
This is a preview image of Summarizing Test. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Leave a comment

114 Comments

  1. Jennifer Basham

     /  March 7, 2016

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

    Reply
  2. Treesa

     /  March 1, 2016

    Thank you… It helped me a lot!!!!

    Reply
  3. Treesa

     /  March 1, 2016

    BIG THANK YOU!!!! Awesome material…

    Reply
  4. Paul

     /  January 30, 2016

    This website is fantastic, you really have saved me hours this term with guided reading worksheets. Really can’t thank people like you enough, thank the lord you exist!

    Reply
  5. Megan Johnson

     /  December 9, 2015

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

    Reply
  6. 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
  7. Laura B

     /  October 28, 2015

    Thank you for your generosity at sharing such valuable, quality information with the education industry (teachers). Your work is fantastic, and your selflessness is appreciated.

    Reply
  8. 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
  9. NSalazar

     /  October 13, 2015

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

    Reply
  10. Donna Owen

     /  October 12, 2015

    I absolutely love the worksheet 1 and 2 on Summary and Main Idea! The nonfiction is written so intriguingly as to grab everyone’s interest, even my own! Are there more like these?

    Reply
  11. kathy cuttonaro

     /  September 2, 2015

    Thank you

    Reply
  12. kathy cuttonaro

     /  September 2, 2015

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

    Reply
  13. Irene

     /  August 9, 2015

    This is really helpful! I’m going to use them on my IGCSE2 students! Thanks! You saved my life!

    Reply
  14. Sky

     /  July 24, 2015

    The summarizing lesson was very helpful, it would be great if you could also add a few notes on how to tell apart between the main point and elaborations. But thanks for the othe other tips, it help me clear my mind.

    Reply
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. Ann

     /  May 4, 2015

    Thank you SO much for these WONDERFUL resources!!!! They ae SO useful!
    Do you happen to have a key for the Summarizing Test, pleeeeeease???
    Thank you again!!!

    Reply
  18. Anna

     /  May 4, 2015

    Hello!

    Do you have the answer key for the summarizing test?

    These were all great! thanks for providing them.

    Reply
  19. Naudia Mckay

     /  May 3, 2015

    BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  20. Donna Q.

     /  March 31, 2015

    Can you PLEASE put a 10 question worksheet on summary?

    Reply
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. Julie Chitwood

     /  January 23, 2015

    Could you send a copy of the answer key?

    Reply
    • Julie Chitwood

       /  January 23, 2015

      I should clarify – answer key for the test. Thank you for the materials! They are a huge help!

      Reply
  27. 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
  28. Jaecon

     /  January 10, 2015

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

    Reply
  29. Kathy Jarrell

     /  January 4, 2015

    I love this resource. Great material, could you please provide the answer key to the summarizing test? It would help me a lot.
    Thanks

    Reply
  30. 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
  31. Annie

     /  December 4, 2014

    Do you by chance have an answer key for the summary test?

    Reply
  32. isha

     /  November 23, 2014

    Thanks a lot lot for helping me.

    Reply
  33. Amanda Keymann

     /  November 4, 2014

    Could I get the key to the Summarizing test.

    Reply
  34. James

     /  October 26, 2014

    Thank you so much! Perfect resource every time I need something more for reading. Is it too much to say I love you? LOL

    Reply
  35. 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
  36. Mrs. La-La

     /  October 14, 2014

    Do you have the key for the summarizing test?

    Reply
  37. 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
  38. Tami

     /  September 19, 2014

    This website is a life saver

    Reply
  39. How about some worksheets on connections?

    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. Renee

     /  July 23, 2014

    Any idea when the answer keys will be posted? I stumbled across this website earlier this month. It has proven a goldmine for worksheets and presentations ever since! THANK YOU!

    Reply
  42. 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
  43. Rehana

     /  May 22, 2014

    Thanks so much – very useful

    Reply
  44. Sapphire

     /  May 16, 2014

    It Helped :3

    Reply
  45. Abubakr

     /  April 9, 2014

    Thanks alot for your help.

    Reply
  46. 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
  47. 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
  48. Kittiya

     /  February 27, 2014

    Thank you so much for your kindness.

    Reply
  49. 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
  50. Ahmad Ahsan

     /  January 4, 2014

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

    Reply

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