Posted in iPads, Technology

Summarising doesn’t need to be boring!

Each week, both of the Year 4 classes sit down together and watch Behind The News (BTN).

Sometimes we reflect using the discussion questions and on other occasions I create Miss T’s BTN quiz where students work in teams. I integrate BTN into the ‘Listening and Speaking Interactions’ part of the Literacy curriculum. As my class use the Daily 5 and Literacy CAFE program I am always looking for ways to consolidate the new strategies we focus on.  This week’s strategy was ‘Summarise Text’ I thought that BTN would be the perfect platform to practice this skill.

I prepared 5 QR codes – one for each of the news reports in this week’s episode’ and placed them around the room. After watching BTN I asked the students to use an iPad to scan the QR code using i-nigma and re-watch the news report to refresh their memory. I asked them to summarise the report in 2 sentences; to tell the reader what each report was about, in a shorter version.

I have never seen my class so engaged. As my 24 students got to work, there was constant noise as our iPads don’t have headphones. Each student found a space to work at, some in groups on the floor, some by themselves and it was amazing to see their heads down, watching, listening, analysing and writing. There was barely any talking from my students; the noises coming from their classmates’ iPads were tuned out and I felt that every single student was ‘engaged’, or as I like to call it, ‘in the zone’. Some students were able to summarise all five BTN sections, while others focused on one or two.


What did this teach me? My students like independence. They like clear instructions. A combination of technology and traditional methods can work. Teaching literacy strategies towards the end of the school day can work. No matter how tired my students were, they all managed to produce work.  And last but not least, it taught me that we are not the best at summarising…just yet.

5 thoughts on “Summarising doesn’t need to be boring!

  1. Excellent! We love hearing how teachers are using Behind the News and this is a great example. You may be interested in the YouTube weekly summary video we’ve been doing recently; we agree, summarising our stories is hard work! 🙂

  2. Hi Fiona!
    Just thought I’ll take this opportunity to tell you how much I love reading your posts. As a beginning teacher I find these really useful and easy to understand so that I can give these ideas ago. We use btn in our class too and this would be a great strategy to keep children engaged.

    Thank you!

  3. Sounds like Yr.4 weren’t at all bored with their BTN learning activities, believing they were doing much more than just summarising.
    Did they have many questions about the subject matter covered?
    After all your lesson design and prep effort, it must be very satisfying to see and hear students respond so constructively.

    1. Hi Lynne,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I thought it would be something different to get the students thinking rather than just talking about the topic. We often have lots of questions and comments about the topics, which is really good because it shows that they are actually taking something in!
      The preparation work pays off more times than not! 🙂

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