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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.
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  1. Alphonsa Anis

     /  March 27, 2022

    Thanks it was extremely helpful.

  2. Ros

     /  March 16, 2021

    Absolutely fabulous. I’m using them for two employees who are struggling to summarise information. Very, very helpful – thank you.

  3. Kim Hayden

     /  October 31, 2020

    Hello, can these great worksheets be linked to Google Classroom? Also, how can I have my students access the online assessments? Thank you.

    • There is a Google Classroom button on the title slide of each online assignment. Press this button to assign it. Google Classroom integration is pretty thin right now, but I’m hoping that they open up their platform more sometime soon!

  4. Jessie

     /  August 25, 2020

    Thank you, Mr. Morton, for sharing your tips and worksheets for summary teaching and writing practices. Very useful!

  5. Warren

     /  May 7, 2020

    Some great activities, really helpful.
    One thing I want to point out is that shinobi-no-mono is NOT Chinese – this is Japanese. And in the text the characters given are Japanese, NOT Chinese.
    This is quite a big oversight. As language teachers we need to be aware of different languages.

  6. Shamayel

     /  November 27, 2019

    I want summary and practice sheets for grade 6

  7. regina

     /  September 3, 2018

    Please send me an answer key for the summarizing test.

  8. Sam Wilson

     /  May 9, 2018

    Acutually 忍の者 isnt chinese the word の is japanses, while in chinese and japanese they call ninja , 忍者. Other than that this is some really good stuff to study my summary from

  9. Es

     /  April 1, 2018


    great material. I´ve been looking for this type of easy to read/ understand material for a long time.

    Would it be possible to have the solutions to the test?

    Thanks in advance.

    Take care,


  10. Diane Thomas

     /  March 13, 2018

    These are wonderful!Thank you so much!

  11. jory rose

     /  March 7, 2018

    Thanks a lot .


     /  December 7, 2017


  13. Mrs. Robinson

     /  December 1, 2017

    Hello, I’m looking for the answer guide for the Summarizing test, please advise if it is available?

  14. Loan Nguyen

     /  November 27, 2017

    Thanks for your sharing. Invaluable resources for teachers. It would be highly appreciated if you can send me the key for the summary test.

  15. elmf

     /  September 27, 2017

    Is there an answer sheet for the summarizing test?

    EXCELLENT worksheets!

  16. Benji

     /  August 20, 2017

    Thank you so much!!

  17. Rachana

     /  August 2, 2017

    Thank you very much. Bless you!

  18. Fe Pablico

     /  June 22, 2017

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

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. Louis

     /  March 13, 2017

    Thanks from Toronto! Great help for ESL classes here.

  22. cameron

     /  February 9, 2017

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

  23. saida merad

     /  February 1, 2017

    Thank you for your valuable help!

  24. Anita

     /  January 11, 2017

    Thank you for putting all the material together.

  25. 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,

  26. 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!

    • 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.

    • Sarah S.

       /  October 16, 2018

      These worksheets are helpful but the commenter above is correct, none of these words are or have ever been Chinese. “Shinobi” was in Japanese poems in the 8th century, not Chinese. Shinobi was the Chinese reading of the characters, but it was always a Japanese word. It might be helpful to fix this worksheet to avoid presenting incorrect information to students.

  27. Janat

     /  October 25, 2016

    What is the answer key for summary test please?

  28. 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!

  29. laxmi

     /  October 21, 2016

    Thank you so much for helpful material

  30. Brian Samson

     /  October 20, 2016

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


  31. 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?

  32. Melissa

     /  October 10, 2016

    What’s the reading level for summary worksheet 3?


  33. John stone

     /  October 4, 2016

    Can I get answers for summarizing test about Gutenberg

  34. 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

  35. 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 😀

  36. 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.


  37. 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!

  38. 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.

  39. Gracie Alexander

     /  May 5, 2016

    Is there an answer key for the Test?

  40. 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!

  41. 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!

  42. 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.



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