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Writing a Summary of Nonfiction

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  1. Writing a Summary of Nonfiction

  2. What is a summary? What makes a good summary? How can I write a summary of nonfiction? Essential Questions

  3. A summary is all of the ideas from a text, written in your own words A summary is your opinions about a text A summary is a shortened form of a text, with all of the main ideas A summary is a review of a text, with main ideas and your opinions What is a summary?

  4. A summary is all of the ideas from a text, written in your own words A summary is your opinions about a text A summary is a shortened form of a text, with all of the main ideas A summary is a review of a text, with main ideas and your opinions What is a summary?

  5. Readers can write a summary of a text to let someone else know the main ideas Why do we write summaries?

  6. Summarizing a text helps you to understand it—as you figure out the most important ideas, your brain is engaged in understanding the text Why do we write summaries?

  7. Students often write summaries as a school assignment Summaries are also included on tests, to see how well you understood a text Why do we write summaries?

  8. It depends! How long should a summary be?

  9. The length of a summary depends on the length of the original text A summary should always be shorter than the original text How long should a summary be?

  10. Here are four basic rules for writing a summary of nonfiction: Include the important ideas from the text Put ideas in your own words Leave out little details and repeated information Use the text structure of the text What makes a good summary?

  11. Here are four basic rules for writing a summary of nonfiction: Include the important ideas from the text Put ideas in your own words Leave out little details and repeated information Use the text structure of the text What makes a good summary?

  12. This is easy to say, but sometimes hard to do! As you read, it’s important to think about what ideas are most important to the author Include important ideas from the text

  13. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. Include important ideas from the text Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed.

  14. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. Which ideas are important in this text? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed.

  15. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. Which ideas are important in this text? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed. Even though you might have some personal connection with some of the ideas, you need to think about what’s important to the author. Look for the topic sentences and big ideas.

  16. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. Which ideas are important in this text? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed. Even though you might have some personal connection with some of the ideas, you need to think about what’s important to the author. Look for the topic sentences and big ideas.

  17. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. Which ideas are important in this text? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed. Do you agree that these are the big ideas in the text?

  18. What strategies do you use to find important ideas in a text? Why do you think this is important for summarizing? Finding important ideas

  19. Include the important ideas from the text Put ideas in your own words Leave out little details and repeated information Use the text structure of the text What makes a good summary?

  20. Putting ideas in your own words is also called paraphrasing Instead of just copying down the author’s words, we need to use our own words Putting ideas in your own words

  21. Can you paraphrase this sentence from the text? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. Putting ideas in your own words

  22. Hint: Try using synonyms for important words Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive Putting ideas in your own words

  23. Hint: Try changing the order of ideas Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive Putting ideas in your own words

  24. Here’s one way to paraphrase the sentence. How does it compare to yours? Butterflies need specific plants to live Original Text: Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive Putting ideas in your own words

  25. There are some words that you can’t change when you paraphrase. These key words are the important words from the passage. Paraphrasing For example, in the passage that we read, the words butterfly and caterpillar cannot be replaced

  26. Include the important ideas from the text Put ideas in your own words Leave out little details and repeated information Use the text structure of the text What makes a good summary?

  27. Small details can be called “trivial details”—they might be interesting, but are not important to the main ideas of the passage We do not need to include these small details in summaries Trivial Details

  28. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. What small details do you notice? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed.

  29. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. What small details do you notice? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed. While this example supports the main idea, it is not needed for a summary

  30. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. What other small details do you notice? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed.

  31. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. What other small details do you notice? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed. The description of the Xerxes Society is not needed in a summary.

  32. Authors also might repeat ideas. When the same idea is restated, we only need to include it once in a summary. Repeated Ideas

  33. Include the important ideas from the text Put ideas in your own words Leave out little details and repeated information Use the text structure of the text What makes a good summary?

  34. The text structure of a text refers to how the text is organized Description Cause and Effect Chronological Order Problem/Solution Compare and Contrast Using text structure

  35. When you look at the text structure of a text, you can find the big ideas and see how to organize your summary Description Cause and Effect Chronological Order Problem/Solution Compare and Contrast Using text structure

  36. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. What is the text structure? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed.

  37. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. What is the text structure? Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed. Overall, this paragraph shows the text structure of cause and effect.

  38. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. Text Structure in a Summary Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed. In your summary, you need to show the cause and effect!

  39. What makes a good summary?

  40. What makes a good summary?

  41. What do you remember about the four rules for writing a good summary? Include the important ideas from the text Put ideas in your own words Leave out little details and repeated information Use the text structure of the text What makes a good summary?

  42. Look back at the butterfly text. Can you write a summary? Now, it’s your turn!

  43. If butterflies cannot find the food source they need for their eggs, the next generation will not survive. When habitats are changed, such as when wetlands are drained or forests are cleared, butterfly populations may drop dramatically. According to the Xerxes Society, an invertebrate conservation group, over 50 kinds of U.S. butterflies are at risk. Write your own summary Many butterflies depend on certain plants to survive. As adults, butterflies drink nectar. But caterpillars eat leaves. Some caterpillars only eat the leaves of specific plants. Monarch caterpillars, for example, eat only milkweed.

  44. by Emily Kissner For more on summarizing, read my book: