Students’ oral and written summaries need to match the same text structure of the passage. Before asking students to generate a summary based on reading, identify the text’s organizational pattern by looking at its transition words.
Summaries should include the same transition words as used in the original passage, as these can be sentence starters and serve as a framework for a strong summary. Here are common transitions sorted by text structure.
- Chronological structure: In the beginning, the problem was, next, then, after that,finally
- Main Idea-Supporting Details structure: â€¦is the most importantâ€¦, an example, another reasonâ€¦, another illustrationâ€¦, thereforeâ€¦, â€¦is important becauseâ€¦
- Compare-Contrast structure: â€¦andâ€¦are alikeâ€¦, both haveâ€¦, they differ inâ€¦, â€¦as well asâ€¦, another way they areâ€¦, onlyâ€¦is the â€¦-est
- Cause-Effect structure: The reasonâ€¦happenedâ€¦, ifâ€¦hadn’t happenedâ€¦, one effect ofâ€¦, another resultâ€¦, due toâ€¦occurringâ€¦, this explains whyâ€¦
- Problem-Solution structure: Somebody (person or object), â€¦wantedâ€¦, â€¦butâ€¦, soâ€¦, thenâ€¦
If teachers provide students the appropriate words/phrases (that correspond with the text’s structure), then they can retell the information in a strong summary. To do this, download each frame and cut the transition strips apart. Model writing several summaries where you are using the sentence starters/transition words to link facts and details together.
Eventually, move this skill into your small-group instruction for students to practice. Give each student in the group one of the pieces to the summary frame to find the important information and contribute to a shared summary.
You could also place appropriate transition strips at various literacy stations for students to use as a guide when jotting down summaries from texts they are reading independently.