Building students’ literacy skills by focusing on Determining Importance and Summarizing allows them to read for meaning, and decode in an effective way that leads towards the sequencing of ideas for future use. Implementing these skills focuses on building metacognitive skills, as students must consider not only what they feel is important, but also how they came to the decisions that those pieces are important.
English Course Pack: Unit One – Literacy Skills
This assignment is part of the The Full English Course Park. This piece is part of Unit One: Literacy Skills, which focuses on creating a strong foundational understanding of literacy skills, PEE paragraph writing, and embedding quotations as textual support.
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1.10 – Determining Importance & Summarizing: Slide Deck
Step One: Introduce Determining Importance
The adventure begins on Slide 4. Ask students what they think determining importance means. As this is one of the most literally descriptive literacy skills, you will probably find yourself faced with some strong responses that hit very close to the mark.
As always, the subtitle on this slide should provide some insights. As students have seen other slide decks in this series already, they may use this as a context clue.
Once you move on to slide 5, students will copy the definition to build the mnemonic developed through the act of physically writing.
Step Two: “We now break for this short video.”
The short video on slide 6 walks through the basics of determining importance. Because it is only one minute long, you can view it again and ask students to determine the most important sentence in the video, and then one more time asking them to determine the most important word in the video.
After each viewing, students can debrief their responses. You are also free to make a list of the top three or four most common “important words” and then writing them down before launching into a four corners activity.
Step Three: Putting it Into Practice (Identifying Details)
Slide 8 will give one final refresher, before moving onto the task on Slide 9. Students will copy down the following questions:
- What is the main idea of this image?
- What are the main details and supporting details?
Once complete, move on to Slide 10 and provide students with the full screen image of the scene. Provide them with at least five minutes to create a T-Chart and record main details on one side, and supporting details on the other side.
Once time has elapsed you can move through the animation, revealing the circled details. Students are free to amend their own detail lists as desired.
Step Four: Putting it Into Practice (Sorting Details)
Slide 11 provides three different lists for detail-types:
- Main Details
- Supporting Details
- Other Details
A class discussion can sort out the different details into those categories, and that conversation can be supported by moving through the circle animations, sorting them into different columns and identifying them by unique colours.
Slide 12 provides a more definitive list of details, but students are not bound to that list. They can use whatever they identified through the process. This list is to support those who had difficultly creating a list, so they will still be able to move forward to the next stage.
Step Five: Writing a Main Idea Paragraph
Provide students with an opportunity to write a PEE paragraph, that includes specific references to their main and supporting details as evidence for their ideas. Once complete, provide an opportunity for students to share their paragraphs if they want.
Be sure to keep in mind that there are no right or wrong responses. Student ideas can be dramatically different from each others, or your own. Ensure that a safe space is maintained, but be willing to accept any conclusion, provided it is supported using textual details.
Finally, share the exemplar and ask students to compare the exemplar to their own, and provide a moment to strengthen their own, or point out flaws in the exemplar and strengthen it.
Step Six: Releasing Responsibility
Students have had an opportunity to write a paragraph through a scaffolded approach. Now, time permitting – and student engagement allowing – the scaffolding can be removed. Allow students an appropriate amount of time to consider the image on slide 14, and then write a Main Idea Paragraph that explores the text.
As always, students should be provided the opportunity to share their responses.
Step Seven: But Wait… There’s more! Summarizing!
Identifying Main and Supporting Details and Summarizing are so closely related that I find it important to connect them together, rather than have two different slide decks. It’s likely that you will need to teach the summarizing literacy skill in a different lesson. That’s fine. Everything should be taught as time allows.
Start by asking students what summarizing means. It’s likely the one skill they’re already aware of. Then, provide them time to copy down the definition on Slide 18.
Step Eight: “Let’s take a video break.”
There are two prompts to view-with-meaning that students should consider when you watch this three-minute video. Students should use this as an opportunity to reinforce their learning as it pertains to main and supporting details.
After the video, students should debrief what summarizing is, and what the best strategies for writing a summary are.
Step Nine: Reinforce the Learning
Slide 21 provides an overview of summarizing, and Slide 22 condenses all of the prior learning into four bullet points. Students should be encouraged to record these points in their notes. You can draw attention to the fact that these four bullets would provide a fantastic for a strong summary paragraph about summarization.
Slide 23 presents a few paragraphs from an essay. Students can be encouraged to orally summarize this text, or you can walk them through how the main and supporting details were identified. At this point, students can write a quick summary paragraph using the identified and highlighted details, or you can move directly to showing the exemplar piece.
Step Ten: Releasing Responsibility… again
Slide 25 provides another opportunity for students to demonstrate their summarization skills. Time, and engagement permitting this could be a strong way to release responsibility and allow students to demonstrate their learning.
By the end of this slide deck, students will have provided a number of writing samples. Not only will students have demonstrated their learning, and added two more literacy skills to their transferable toolkits, teachers will also have powerful assessment data.
By looking at how students performed with scaffolded assistance, versus complete release of responsibility, learning gaps, and achievement gaps can be identified for targeting individual, or class, intervention as you move forward through the early stages of the course.
English – Unit One: Literacy Skills
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English Course Packs: Full Units
Unit One: Literacy Skills
Unit Two: Poetry (In Progress)
Unit Three: Literature Circles (In Progress)
Unit Four: Creative Writing & Choose Our Way Tales (In Progress)
Unit Five: Essay Writing (In Progress)
Unit Six: Culminating Tasks (In Progress)
Michael Barltrop has been teaching since 2006, integrating comics, video games, and TTRPGs into his classroom. He has been the head of English, Literacy, Special Education, and Assessment & Evaluation and Universal Design. Feel free to reach out through Twitter @MrBarltrop!
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