Summarizing and Note taking


Summarizing and note taking are skills that will help students promote greater comprehension. By asking the students to look at a given subject then to analyze it and put it in their own words for better understanding. Research shows to do this students are required to substitute, delete, and keep some things while being aware of the basic structure of the information that is presented.

A couple Applications that would help to get a better understanding for this would be:

  • Providing students with a set of rules to help create a summary

  • When it comes to summarizing, suggest that the students question what is unclear to them, clarify the unclear questions, and make a predict to what will happen next.

According to research having taken more notes is better than fewer notes, although verbatim note taking is ineffective, it does not allow time to process the information. The teachers should encourage and provide their students the time to review and revise their notes. Because notes can be the best guides for test.

This is an example of the rules that should be used to summarize a document in your own words.

A way to apply these to note taking would be to:

  • have a teacher set of note prepared

  • use consistent format for notes (students can refine their notes as necessary)


Main Idea and Details for Non-Fiction Text

To help students find the main idea and supporting details they must think about information that can be deleted and what is not important.

For Fiction Text

Have students define what the character of the story wanted, the conflict and the solution of the problem.

Rules to edit information from Internet

Once students being to pick out main points and detail of the text, it is helpful to use a set of rules or steps. The process includes deleting, rewording ideas, and reorganizing information. Since students take information from the internet, it is easy for them to just copy and paste text into a word document. But these rules are to be used when getting information from the internet; they are editing tools that they should follow:

  • Remove the material that is not important for your understanding

  • Remove words that repeat information

  • Replace lists with simple words that describe the things in the list

  • Find the main or topic sentence, if you cannot find it, make it up.

This document is an example of the proper way to summarize what you have read. This is based off of the rules that were provided above.


This is a blank document that can be used for summary purposes.

Effective summarizing allows students to increase their learning. Helping the students recognize and notice how information is structured will help them to understand and summarize what they have read or heard in the classroom. As an example, having students summarize a reading assignment can be more effective when the summary is done in frames. This would typically include a series of questions provided from the teacher to direct the student’s attention to specific sections. This allows the students to know what the teacher wants them to focus on, instead of having to guess. The students whom are capable of effectively summarizing what was learned are able to learn to synthesize information, a higher-order thinking skill which includes analyzing information, identifying key concepts, and defining extraneous information.

Teachers use note taking because it is a strategy that support student learning, it is a related strategy. Without proper instruction in note taking the students may just write down words or phrases word for word, without having student’s analysis or a good effect. Successful note takers summarize the meaning, which they are much more likely to retain this information later on. The students also have an advantage from using their notes as a credential of what they are learning. It is also a great way to study for an exam or test. Teachers should provide time for their students to review and refine their notes especially when it comes time to prepare for and exam, write a research paper, or the other summative assessments of learning.

Key_to_Success.jpgKey research findings

Students need to analyze information at a deeper level in order for them to decide what information to remove, what to use as a substitute and what to keep when they are asked to give a summary.

Reading comprehension increases when students learn how to incorporate ‘summary frames’ as a tool for summarizing. Summary frames are questions that the teacher designs and provides to highlight the critical passage of text. When the students use this strategy they improve their skills in understanding what they have read, identify key information, and provide a summary that helps them to retain information for use later on.

Teachers that have a set of notes prepared show their students how important and how ideas relate and they also are a model for their class on how students should take notes.

Notes should be provided in both nonlinguistic and linguistic forms, they should include idea webs, sketches, informal outlines, and a variety of combinations of words and schematics. The more notes available the better.

Students who review and revise their own notes found that the notes become more meaningful and useful.

Teaching the proper skills of summarizing and note taking, teachers benefit their students with a stronger foundation for learning by employing research-based strategies, such as:

  1. Teaching a formal process. Demonstrate the delete-substitute-keep process to summarize.

  2. Delete the words or sentences that do not need to be there

  3. Remove the redundant words or sentence

  4. Change super-ordinate terms

  5. Select or create a topic sentence

Students tend to wonder what information they can delete because it is not necessary or redundant. When they encounter unfamiliar vocabulary or specific examples that have more general concepts, they can exchange another term that will help them to better understand and remember the big idea. They also question which information is essential to keep.

  1. Assist students to identify how the information is structured in the different formats. Example, in a play they have to be able to understand the difference between the scene descriptions, stage directions, and the dialog. Use a newspaper to show how news and opinion writing is structured differently than a web site. View a Web site to make sure that they understand which concept is paid advertising.

  2. Model good note taking. Show your students how to take effective notes for themselves. Give them practice like an outline of information that will be covered in class and have them use that as a reference to taking notes. Tell them how notes are types of document that can change and evolve as the note taker gains understanding.

  3. Use frame summaries to question their attention on concepts you want them to her a better understanding and to remember. Encourage the students to synthesize ideas. Give them a word limit to summarizing information

  4. Strengthen the students skills in personalizing their notes, using sketches, diagrams, color codes, webs, and any other ideas that make sense to them. In the end all that matters is that they understand their notes and that the notes are meaningful and useful to them.

  5. Have students compare and talk about their notes with classmates in small groups as a way to review and prepare for test.

There are many different strategies that can be used for reflection and summarizing learning, whether it is independent or collaborative work. There are activities that can be used to make reflection and summarizing learning a bit more fun and interesting. In the document there are some collaborative activities that can be used for Reflection and Summarizing Learning.

Other ways that can be used for note taking are


  • Concept Webs

  • Flow charts

  • Venn Diagrams

  • Teacher prepared notes

There are many different summarizing and note taking skills that need to inform their students to because students may use them for a lifetime. Learning to summarize information into their own words eliminates plagiarism. The ability to know how to take good and reliable notes will help students understand why note taking is important and how if can benefit them for studying, test, exams, and to better understand the topic. These two skills help to promote greater comprehension.

Resources to help summarize

Summarizing Worksheets


Strategies for summarizing

Strategies for students understanding

Resources for note taking

Online Outline

Note Taking Skills

Good Listening in Class

Taking Notes in Class

Lecture Styles

Abbreviations for notes