Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Condensing it down

An activity I had read about in the Teacher's Toolkit by Paul Ginnis was to take a piece of text/article/excerpt etc and to summarise the information: 1st into 1 paragraph, then into 1 sentence and finally with just one word.

This activity worked great in class. I gave the students part of an academic text on whether watching television affected cognitive development in children. I first gave them an A4 piece of paper to summarise the text given to them. I got them to use their note making skills and reading here too. Then, after I got a few volunteers to read out their summaries (to get an idea of how similar/different they were to their peers) I got them to condense their paragraphs down to just one sentence. At this point I stressed that I wanted them to focus only on their written paragraphs and not to refer to the text (so I took these away)! A bit of feedback again with the sentences before...

Finally, I got all the students to take their sentences and write just one word from them on a post-it note and to stick them at the front of the class. This had a very interesting element to it as nearly all of the words were different, which was what I was hoping for to emphasise how summaries can be so different even with the same original text; we discussed abstracts here too!

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