One of my favorite blogs, Free Tech for Teachers, turned me on to Wiki Summarizer, which allows you to enter key words for a subject, get  a list of relevant articles, then request a summary and get  a brief description of the article with key words highlighted.

I can see using this with my college reading classes this fall, but I have to be careful to give them an adequate introduction to it first.  My failures to get students to use technology have mostly been because I did not give them time to figure the software out first with the support of their classmates and me.  For any new piece of software I want them to use, I HAVE to give them at least one class period in a computer lab where we can experiment and stumble and figure it out together.  Only then will any assignment using the software have a reasonable chance of being successful.

Summarizer could be very useful in helping students identify key words – a skill that almost everyone in a reading class needs to improve.  Key words pop out for skilled readers, and we often assume that they pop for everyone.  Not so.  In lessons on identifying key words reading students often choose words that don’t have much to do with the main idea.  Their choices help me understand why they struggle so to identify the main idea.

I want to spend more time this fall  in my basic reading class on key words as the beginning stage of identifying main ideas.  I think that most of the semester will be spent just on vocabulary and identifying the main idea by learning to recognize and connect key words and details, and I think Wiki Summarizer may provide a useful tool to help me with that.  Thanks again, Free Tech for Teachers.

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