Sign up or login to use the bookmarking feature.

WE 269 Writing Summaries

Teacher Tips and Answers


Page 269

Writing Summaries

Toothpaste Problem
© Thoughtful Learning 2024

Toothpaste contains binders, abrasives, sudsers, flavors, fluorides, tooth whiteners, and water. All this stuff is mixed up in vats that hold 6,000 pounds of paste!

You need all those ingredients in a little 4 ounce tube that you can carry with you.

In the same way, you can’t remember everything in a reading, but you can summarize the ideas in a form you can take with you. A summary is a short retelling of information using your own words. It should include the main ideas and important details in brief. Let’s get summarizing!

What's Ahead

WE 270

Page 270

Developing a Summary

Prewriting Planning Your Summary

Skim and Take Notes 🟪 Learn as much as you can about your reading selection before you try to summarize it.

  • Skim it. Look at the title, table of contents, headings, pictures, and so on to get the general meaning. Then read the selection more carefully.

  • Take notes. While reading and taking notes, follow these important rules:

  1. Write down headings. Note headings and topic sentences, which often contain the main points.
  2. Use the 5W’s questions. Write down answers to the following: Who? What? Where? When? Why?
  3. Note repeated ideas. Authors often say important things several times. Pay attention to words and phrases that are repeated.
  4. Record repeated ideas just once. Avoid repetition in your notes and summary.
  5. Focus on key information. Don’t write down details that are unimportant. Some details may be interesting, but if they are not key to the meaning of the text, do not include them in your notes or summary.
  6. Use summary words. Try to capture ideas in few words. For example, in the sample summary on page 273, the author wrote “compacts” instead of “gets crushed down into.”

WE 271

Page 271

Annotate the Reading 🟪 Another way to take notes is to annotate your reading. Annotating means marking up a text as you read. Just make sure you own the text or are reading from a printout. Here’s how one student annotated a text before writing a summary about it.

Black Hole Article Annotation
© Thoughtful Learning 2024

WE 272

Page 272

Writing Developing Your First Draft

Use Your Own Words 🟪 Write your summary in clear and complete sentences. Use your own words, except for key terms.

  1. State the main idea. The first sentence in your summary is a topic sentence. It should state the main idea (and the title and author if they are available). The sentences that follow must support the topic sentence.

  2. Choose important information. Include only the most important information in the rest of your summary. (Follow the rules on page 270.)

  3. Place details in order. Arrange your ideas in the same order they occurred in the original text. Pay attention to the overall organization (problem/solution, cause/effect, process, and so on). The article says, “When a star uses up its nuclear fuel, gravity wins.” This is a cause/effect relationship. The summary also uses “when” in the first sentence to show this cause/effect relationship.

  4. Wrap up the summary. Add a concluding sentence if one seems necessary.

Revising and Editing Improving Your Writing

Review Carefully 🟪 Ask yourself the following questions when you revise your summary. (Use the checklist on page 66 as an editing guide.)

_____ Do I include the most important ideas and details?

_____ Do I state these ideas briefly and in my own words?

_____ Can another person get the main idea of this selection by reading my summary?

WE 273

Page 273

Sample Summary

The article “How do black holes form?” says that when a giant star runs out of fuel, it collapses under gravity. Some mass gets blown away in a supernova, but the rest compacts into a single point. With a mass 10 times the sun’s, the singularity draws in everything, even light. Matter and energy at the event horizon join the black hole. A whole sun can be eaten up!

Original Selection

How do black holes form?

Every star is a nuclear engine. It converts hydrogen to helium through fusion. The energy it produces pushes outward against the inward pull of gravity.

When a star uses up its nuclear fuel, gravity wins. The star collapses rapidly until the atoms crash against each other and some blow out in a supernova. If the star is really big, much of the material gets crushed down into a point called a singularity.

That point has 10 or more times the mass of our sun, so its gravity is tremendous. It pulls in anything that comes near it, even light. In fact, at a certain distance from the singularity, there’s no escape. That distance is the event horizon. That’s what people think of as the edge of the black hole.

After a black hole forms, it may begin to feed. As matter wanders nearby, it circles the black hole like water going down a drain. Once the matter reaches the event horizon, it joins the black hole, making it even bigger. Astronomers recently got pictures of a black hole as it gobbled down a whole sun!

Teacher Support:

Click to find out more about this resource.

English Language Arts:

Standards Correlations:

The Common Core State Standards provide a way to evaluate your students' performance.

Lesson Plan Resources:

Here you'll find a full list of resources found in this lesson plan.

© 2024 Thoughtful Learning. Copying is permitted.