Summary Skills Strategy (Summary Writing)

The Summary Skills Strategy developed by Nelson, Smith, and Dodd (1992) can be used to guide students’ summarization of expository text. It helps students, especially students with learning disabilities and difficulties, organize their writing behavior so that they are more reflective, plan more thoughtfully, and expend more effort. With this strategy, students will learn to write a clear, concise, and accurate summary by a) identifying main ideas and important information, b) writing an initial summary of this information, and c) revising it for clarity.

Furthermore, when students summarize something they’ve read or heard in class, it improves their learning and understanding because it affords greater opportunities for students to think about ideas and organize those ideas into a coherent whole. Likewise, when students paraphrase and convert text into their own words, they are not simply engaged in rote learning—a shallow form of learning.

NOTE: For a summarization strategy that helps students monitor their reading comprehension, see the Summarization for Comprehension Toolkit.

Field Guide Alignment: Writing and Writing Intervention, Principle 1, Practice 2


Learn about the strategy

Introduction podcast
Developed by MSMI

Presentation/PowerPoint slides
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See the strategy in action

3 minute video for students
Developed by smrt video lessons

The Summary Skills Strategy

Lesson demo video
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Use the strategy

Student reference handout
Developed by MSMI

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