A to Z Teacher Stuff ~ Teacher Resources, Lesson Plans, Themes, Tips, Printables, and more


Grade Levels

Grades K-2
Grades 3-5
Middle School
High School


Subject Areas

Arts & Crafts
Language Arts
Learning Centers
Literature Activities
Physical Education
Social Studies
Songs & Poems
Special Education
Thematic Units



Summary, Note Taking, Main Idea & Details
Grade Level(s): 9-12
By: Guy Mcdonald, Resource 6-12 Teacher

TLW take notes from oral reading, simulating class lecture, for the purpose of extracting main idea and details and transcribing them into a summary.


  • 2-3 page magazine article, newspaper article, or very short story less than 500 words
  • pencils
  • large sticky notes (approx 3 x 5 inches)
  • medium sticky notes (approx 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches)
  • small sticky notes (approx 1 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches)

**measurements are approximate (you'll understand as you read on!)


  1. Focus: Today I will read aloud for 5-7 minutes. You will take notes on the paper I give you, and then we will do several activities from your notes.
  2. Take notes in outline format (not essential if students do not know what an outline is)--substitute Take notes the best you can and write down every important fact that I say.
  3. Promise you will write in your normal, best handwriting. You are not allowed to scrunch up, write smaller than normal, and you may not write on the back of the paper I give you. Does everybody understand? Does everybody promise to write normal size?
  4. Pass out the largest sticky notes, one sheet per student. Listen for the grumbling. Remind students they can only write normal size on one side only.
  5. Read the selection, pausing and repeating when you get to a name, date, or place which is important.
  6. When finished reading, have some volunteers attempt to 'fact recall' from their notes. Get consensus as to which set of notes is most complete.
  7. Now, pass out medium sized sticky. Reply to the grumbling, "Now you will choose only the most important facts from your notes to write on the smaller sticky note. You have only 90 seconds (or 2,3,4,5 minutes, depending on level)"
  8. Repeat step 5 above to get volunteers to read their 'most important' facts, reminding them they cannot write smaller or on the back. Achieve consensus as to best fact recall.
  9. Now, teach summary. Explain summary as the main idea, plus only one or two details, but summary is the 'essence' or what the whole article is about. Summaries are always brief, short cut versions of the whole article, book, or movie.
  10. When there are no more questions, pass out the smallest sticky note. Remind students their promise to write the same, normal size as on the first and second stickies. Say, "Now, summarize onto your sticky what the article I read to you, and about which you have taken notes. Before you begin, plan your summary. Think about only the most important meaning of the article and perhaps 1/2 details. You have very little space, choose words carefully and wisely.


6-8 Resource used this with main idea, supporting details as well as message relaying during communication lesson. Since they had all experience getting in trouble because they had not relayed a message for a family member, they were interested in being able to get the most important information down at a minimum.9-12 have to accept that Summary is a standardized testing skill which will also help them wherever they work or continue in school.


Search Now:
In Association with Amazon.com
Copyright © 1997- 2022 A to Z Teacher Stuff, L.L.C.  All Rights Reserved.
Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.
Send questions, comments, and suggestions to webmaster@atozteacherstuff.com
For advertising informaton: Advertise