Paraphrasing and Summarizing – FREE Posters and Reminder Cards!

Paraphrasing and summarizing are both super challenging skills to master, and what makes them even more confusing is that students often get these two skills mixed up! That is why I created the PARA and SUM acronyms:
PARAphrase It!
  • Put the text in your own words.
  • Avoid copying the text.
  • Rearrange similar text.
  • Ask yourself if you included all the important points.
SUMmarize It!
  • Shorter than the text.
  • Use your own words.
  • Main ideas only

The acronyms not only make the difference clear, but they also serve as reminders for each of the skills. I would suggest introducing paraphrasing before summarizing. Even though it requires more writing, it is an easier skill to master. Once they learn not to just copy the text, but rather to put it into their own words, they pretty much have it down. Using short paragraphs, like the ones in this set of paraphrasing task cards, is a great way to start.Summarizing is much more challenging. Students must identify the most important points and condense them into a much shorter form than the original. Using short passages can really help. Another suggestion is to limit the words that students are allowed to use. For example, when using these summarizing task cards, students are limited to just 12 words. This keeps them focused on the main points and makes it impossible to paraphrase.

Another strategy is to use the same paragraph for both skills. Students can first paraphrase, then summarize. If you are short on time, then consider paraphrasing verbally and then writing the summary. This could be a good activity to do in pairs.

Ready to get started? Then download the PARAphrase It! and SUMmarize It! posters and reminder cards free right here.

How do you teach summarizing and paraphrasing? Please tell us with a comment.

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