Summarizing in Science

Determining importance while reading a text is essential for high-level comprehension. Summarizing a full text, or large sections of text, is a strategy that helps readers make meaning of complex science material. When summarizing, a reader is identifying what a section is mostly about. Proficient readers are able to do this fluidly—summarizing a chunk of text before moving on to the next section. If a reader cannot summarize, it is an indication that he/she needs to stop and use a strategy to repair comprehension before moving on.

As with all literacy strategy introduction, teacher demonstration is a key first step. The teacher shows an example of what it looks like to efficiently summarize parts of the text as one reads. Following the gradual release of responsibility model, the teacher then invites students to try summarizing first with a partner. Summarizing aloud (or silently to oneself) provides practice. Eventually, students will be able to apply the strategy independently in the form of annotating in the margins and/or writing paragraph summaries.


Resources for Summarizing


These resources were developed with the generous support of The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation.