Application for ELLs - Summarizing and Note Taking


Summarizing needs to be explicitly taught rather than assigned to help ELLs understand text patterns and recognize signal words to help improve reading and writing skills (Hill & Flynn, 2006).

  • Students keep, delete, & substitute information - Teachers should accompany steps with nonlinguistic representations to support beginning English proficiency levels access content.
  • Students must analyze the information at a deep level - Teachers should point out what is important and what is not to support all English proficiency levels analyze information.
  • Students must be aware of text structures and patterns - Teachers should offer visual examples of text patterns using graphic organizers and other sheltering strategies, such as gestures, clear explanation.


Note taking also needs to be explicitly taught and can be adapted to language acquisition stages with varying portions of words versus pictorial representations.

  • One method is using teacher-prepared note hand-outs - Teachers should give clear examples of what information or key points are important
  • Vary the formats of note taking instruction.
    • Informal outlines, webbing, or combination notes (see below) help ELLs
    • Color coding (example 1 ) (example 2 ) note information is important and helpful for ELLs to organize and remember information (Supported by GLAD, SIOP, Step Up to Writing, Systematic ELD)
      • It's helpful to keep color-coding consistent throughout a unit or even throughout your building (eg. always use green for verbs and red for adjectives, etc.) to aid recall as well as not to confuse students.
  • Combination notes are a good way to differentiate between the proficiency levels (see link connected to language acquisition stages for descriptors). Combination notes combine linguistic and non-linguistic (pictures, symbols, etc.) representations of concepts