Summarizing Comprehension Strategy

Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock (2001) consider summarizing to be one of the top two most useful academic skills.  Through summarizing, students learn to focus upon what is important in a text.  They must be able to delete trivial or redundant information, substitute subordinate information, and keep information that is essential.  They must find a topic sentence or invent one from the text.  When synthesizing information for a summary, students gain a deep understanding of the material being read.  Thus, they satisfy a grand purpose of reading.

 Although the end result of a summary is fairly simple, the process of arriving at the summary is not.  Summarizing requires the student to analyze the information being summarized.  I have provided two main methods of teaching summarizing. The first involves using frames designed by the teacher.  The second is based on the rules of summarization.  I believe that, when initially teaching summarizing, using the frames is beneficial.  After students have developed some skill and understanding of what is required in summarizing, the rules work well to follow.

Strategy Steps


  1. Determine what type of piece students will be reading and select the corresponding frame type.
  1. Consider the essential elements to the type of piece selected.  For example, in a narrative, the following are necessary: characters, setting, initiating event, internal response, goal, consequence, and resolution.
  2. Create questions that will highlight the essential elements of the story.  For example, in a narrative frame, one questions could be: Who are the main characters, and why are they important?
  3. Discuss and emphasize to students that by answering the questions, they have summarized the text.

(Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001, p. 34-35)


When starting the rules method, it is wise to give the students a copy of the text in which they may write.  After the text has been read, guide students through the following steps.

  1. Delete, leave out, or cross-out minor material that is unnecessary to understanding.
  2. Delete, leave out, or cross-out redundant material.
  3. Categorically chunk listed material (example: "trees" for "pine, oak, maple, and walnut").
  4. Select a topic sentence.  Create one if it does not already exist.
  5. All remaining information is part of the summary.

(Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001, p. 32)

Implementation Guide

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