SOS Top Ten for Developing Summarization Skills

Welcome to our special SOS Top Ten series. In this edition, we highlight some of the most popular ways to use Spotlight on Strategies (CDN Version) to help students develop summarization skills.

When students are asked to determine the most important ideas in a text or video segment, they must think deeply about the material. As they eliminate extraneous information, they think about context and consider the big ideas, leading to better understanding and recall of what they have read and seen.

These instructional strategies provide opportunities for students to use Discovery Education digital media resources to develop summarization skills.  

We hope you’ll try one or more strategy and share your experience with us in the comments or the DEN Online Community.


Journals (CDN Version) encourage students to represent content they’ve learned from media in journal entries that include drawings and short writing entries.


Make it Concrete (CDN Version) asks students to summarize the big idea of what they’ve learned by creating a concrete or shape poem.


PechaKucha (CDN Version) is a timed presentation format that incorporates the use of words and images to summarize ideas.


Switcheroo (CDN Version) involves students in creating cards containing big ideas and vocabulary from a media selection and then meet with other students to collaboratively review the material and exchange cards.


Four to One (CDN Version) requires students to closely observe four separate images and write a sentence about each one. Next, they  combine those images, looking for similarities and connections in order to write one sentence that incorporates all four images.


PMI (CDN Version) encourages students to synthesize what they know about a topic by looking at it from multiple perspectives. They use a three-column organizer to record plus, minus, and interesting facts or new ideas before discussing them with a partner.


Sticky Back (CDN Version) encourages students to listen and watch closely in order to remember unique facts and details that help to summarize what they’ve learned. Students use the back side (sticky side) of a sticky note to record ideas, submitting them to a common location where they are reviewed by the class for accuracy and originality.


Songwriting 101 (CDN Version) involves students in using  familiar tunes as musical templates into which they plug lyrics that demonstrate knowledge in the unit of study.


Z Chart (CDN Version) helps students summarize information through the use of linguistic and nonlinguistic representations. Students use a graphic organizer in the form of a giant Z to organize important points, wrapping it up with a short summary of what they’ve learned.


321 Pyramid (CDN Version) provides a structured opportunity for students to synthesize information they’ve learned from digital media. They use a triangle graphic organizer to record facts, points of importance, and a summary of the content.



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  1. resume writing said:

    I am sure that here you can read quite useful advices about writing expository essay. Just try and you will see that it’s not difficult.

  2. Stacey Chornoluk said:

    I love that someone has taken the time to go through these strategies and see what is really working in the classroom with students. It helps me to be a more efficient and prepared teacher by going straight to the best ideas out there.

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