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Hierarchical Summaries

This strategy helps students learn to outline and summarize textbook material, specifically content area texts. It is extremely effective with textbooks that are organized with boldface headings and subheadings.
  1. The students skim over three to four pages of the assigned text, taking note of the headings.

  2. The students use this information to make a skeletal outline using a capital letter for each section designated by a heading with two to three lines underneath to write sentences.

  3. The students read the section under the first subheading.

  4. The students write a main idea sentence next to the letter A in their own words. Underneath they write two to three sentences that support the main idea, again in their own words.

  5. The students continue reading sections one at a time, and filling in the skeletal outline as in step 4.

  6. When the assigned reading is complete, the students review their summaries.

  7. The students share their summaries in small groups.

    Taylor, B. (1986). Teaching middle grade students to summarize content textbook material. In J.F. Bauman (Ed.), Teaching main idea comprehension (pp. 195-209). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
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