skip to main content

Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.

TV411: Writing a Summary


Main Website:

Activity Description

Screenshot of TV411: Summarizing Activity
Source: Summarizing Activity (License: Protected by Copyright (c) [i.e. screenshot])

This site has many activities which can be done independently by a student or in a class with a group of students. This will be a writing activity on how to summarize an article or a story. Students will watch the Summarizing video, then they will do the online activities that go along with the video. Finally, the students will practice writing a summary.

The site also offers a wide variety of other topics in video format, many with worksheets or other resources to use. See the More Ways section below.


  1. The video linked above comes from Vimeo which may be blocked at your school. So test the site to be sure the video will play at your school.
  2. Preview the video using the Example Web Site link (above) and the Summarizing online activity at the site. Set the volume appropriate for your classroom.
  3. Gather stories or articles for students to read to then write a summary. Can be newspapers, articles in textbooks, or online news agencies. Photocopy the articles if necessary.
  4. Download and copy the two Example Documents, Different Type of Summaries and Write a Summary, if you want them to do the writing exercise.


  1. Introduce the topic of summarizing and when it could be useful.
  2. Play the video about Summarizing for your students.
  3. Show students how to access the Summarizing activity at the TV411 Web Site by scrolling down and choosing Begin Lesson (near the bottom of the page). If you need ideas on how to get them to the site, see the Teacher Tips section below. Go through the activities as a group or in pairs.
  4. Have students read one of the articles you provided. Use the Example Document, Write a Summary, to fill out the graphic organizer and write a summary of the article.

Teacher Tips

  • Summary writing in an important skill that the students will need in college. Practice this skill often.
  • Explain that there are different types of summaries that will use different skills. If you are summarizing a news article, you answer the w’s: who, what, where, when, why and how. If you are summarizing an essay or report, you briefly tell the main points of the article including the author’s opinion. If you are summarizing a Web site, tell what is available at the Web site and how you might use it.
  • To practice different summary writing use the Example Document titled Different Type of Summaries.
  • Beware of the advertising sections on each page. Avoid them and teach your students to do like wise.
  • To get students to an online resource, you can make it a Favorite or Bookmark the site on each computer browser, e-mail them the link, e-mail a word processing document with the link in it, or post the link on your class Web page.

More Ways

  • The TV411 Web site has many other reading and writing activities. To find these, select Writing or Reading on the navigational bar near the top of the page. Videos are included as well as lessons and worksheets to download.
  • If you are looking for reading, writing, vocabulary, basic science, and finance, the site offers a variety of other entertaining videos and other resources. Titles you may be interested in include:
    • Reading: Summarizing, Poetry, Campaign Literature, Glossary, Leases, Road Map, Globe, Medicine Labels, Newspaper Headlines, Newspaper, Restating legalese
    • Writing: Creative & Personal Writing, Grammar, Writing for Work & the GED
    • Vocabulary: Words with Multiple Meanings, Using Dictionaries, Learning New Words, What is a Thesaurus?, Compound Words, Homonyms, Medical Words, Prefixes, Suffixes, Synonyms and Antonyms
    • Basic Math in Everyday Life: Figuring Area, Budgets, Multiplication, Carpenter Math, Estimating a Painting Job, Computing Take Home Pay, Tracking Weight Loss, Utility Bills, Ratios in the Kitchen, Computing Averages, Comparing Cell Phone Plans, Math and Money Schemes, Travel Math, Unit Pricing, Football: Percentages, Decimals, and Probability, Basketball: Percentages and Fractions, Fractions and Rhythm, Store Discounts, Smart Shopping, Tipping, Basic Geometry in Origami, Baseball: Perimeter
    • Science: Bacteria, Heat, Carbohydrates, Photosynthesis, Elements
    • Finance: Credit Card Interest, Credit Card Offer, Hidden Costs, Paychecks, Rent to Own: Starting a Business, 401K Benefits, Change Adds Up, Fine Print, Reading Mutual Funds Graphs, Retirement Saving, Saving,

Program Areas

  • ABE: Adult Basic Education
  • ESL: English as a Second Language
  • ASE: High School Diploma
  • ASE: High School Equivalency Preparation
  • CTE: Career Technical Education


  • Low
  • Intermediate
  • High
  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced

Lesson Plan


Open with question, "When do you summarize in your life? Turn to your partner and take the next two minutes to list times you summarize." Bring the group back together and create a class list. The list could include, a movie seen last night, description of what you did over the weekend, a news event, book read, a college article ec.


What is a summary? Why do we need to know how to make one?

A professor once told me the only skills you needed in college were to write a summary and take a test. Probably not accurate but it made me realize that I needed to know how to write a summary correctly. How about in a job, what jobs require summary writing? Managers have to summarize all the time.

Turn to your neighbor and decide what elements should be in a good summary. Write the ideas for all to see.

Show the short video of the police officer and how important summary writing is in his job.

Engagement Enhancement

How would you define a summary? What are the necessary elements?

From Grammarly blog, How to Write a Great Summary, they list 4 steps

  1. Read or watch the source material.
  2. What are the key points? Make a list.
  3. Write the summary in your own words. (be careful of plagiarism)
  4. Go back and edit/proofread your summary. Summaries reflect the writer's point of view, not the readers.

As a class write a summary of a current play, movie, story that the learners will have seen or share an article/news video for all to share together. Go back over the summary and see if it complies with all four steps.

Other resource: How to Write  a Summary in wikiHow

Engagement Enhancement

tv411 has a Lesson on Summarizing with questions to use with the learners. Use the lesson for full class discussion or pair the learners as they go through the five question activities.


Select a story/video you want everyone to practice summarize. Depending on reading ability you can pair learners to assist one another. Or you can watch/read the story as a whole class.

In pairs, learners read/watch the story then, together, they write a summary. Learner pairs then turn to a neighboring pair and share their summaries. Have learners look for the necessary elements to a good summary. Because everyone is using the same source material they should see similarities in the summaries. 

Discuss as a classs what learners learned.


To prepare for this second practice,  gather a variety of stories or articles for learners to summarize. This could be from the news (CNN10), from children's fairy tales (good choice because you can get fairy tales from multiple cultures), or from books you are using in class. 

In pairs, learners read/watch the story then together they write a summary. Learner pairs then share their summaries with the class. 

Engagement Enhancement

Have learners use the Document, Write a Summary. (See Documents under Navigation). Fill out the organizer answering each question. Use the answers to write a summary. Learners turn in summaries for teacher evaluation/comment.


Use the Document, Different Types of Summaries (see Documents under Navigation). Learners find a news article on the web. They fill out this document writing a summary of what they have read.



  • English Language Arts
    • English 1-4
    • Journalism
  • Language Arts - Writing
    • Language Facility
    • Organization of Ideas
    • Writing Conventions
  • Reading
    • Critical Thinking/Decision Making
    • Learning to Learn
  • Reasoning Through Language Arts
    • Mechanics (Capitalization, Punctuation, Spelling)
  • Writing
    • Basic Sentences
    • Mechanics (Capitalization, Punctuation, Spelling)
    • Paragraph Skills
    • Report Writing

CTE Anchor Standards

  • Anchor Standard 1: Academics - Analyze and apply appropriate academic standards required for successful industry sector pathway completion leading to postsecondary education and employment. Refer to the industry sector alignment matrix for identification of standards.
  • Anchor Standard 4: Technology - Writing Standard: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments and information.


  • Writing
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
    • CCR Anchor 6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
  • Language
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Demonstrate command of the conventions of English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
    • CCR Anchor 3 - Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.


grammar, Math, reading, writing, Basic Geometry, basic math, basic science, Budgets, Campaign Literature, Carbohydrates, Carpenter Math, Comparing Cell Phone Plans, complex sentence, Compound Words, Computing Averages, Computing Take Home Pay, Cover Letter, Create a Data Sheet, Decimals, dependent clause, Elements, Estimating, figures of speech, Figuring Area, finance, Fractions, fragments, globe, Glossary, Heat, Homonyms, independent clause, Learning New Words, Leases, Medical Words, medicine labels, Model Resume, Money Schemes, Multiplication, newspaper, newspaper headlines, Percentages, Perimeter, Photosynthesis, Poetry, Prefixes, Probability, Ratios, reading legal documents, reading road maps, science, sentence fragment, Smart Shopping, Store Discounts, Suffixes, summarizing, summary, summary writing, Synonyms, Thesaurus, Tipping, Tracking Weight Loss, transitions, Travel Math, tv411, Unit Pricing, Using Dictionaries, Utility Bills, video sentence fragments, videos, vocabulary, Words with Multiple Meanings, writing a summary, Writing for Work, Antonyms, apostrophes, Bacteria

Creative Commons License

CC BY-NC-SA:This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.
Scroll To Top

OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.