Our Essential Lessons are a sequence of lessons that form the backbone of the Writing Program curriculum, illustrating what we want all students to learn across our program’s diverse course topics.

Summarizing and analyzing texts can be challenging for all students, but multilingual students need additional help with the language of the task. This lesson guides students toward a clearer focus on their word choice and syntax in these forms of academic writing.


This lesson builds on standard best practices that help in classrooms with diverse populations, including activating background knowledge, moving from known to new concepts, and using groupwork to maximize student participation.


Students will use academic attributive verbs (explain, emphasize, mention, etc.), verb tense, and signal/transitional phrases appropriately in syntactically correct structures.

Key Terms

Summary, analysis, claim (thesis statement), reasons and evidence (support, grounds)


Students benefit most from instruction if the various steps in the process of summary and analysis are scaffolded. Since summarizing is a vital skill in writing, this lesson should come near the beginning of the semester in WR 112, as students will need to begin responding in writing to the texts that they read.


Genre Awareness

Ask the students to identify the genre of each type of article that they read, e.g. scientific, literary, journalistic, etc., and to note what differences in style and approach the various authors employ. Then, discuss with them to what extent the elements of each genre are appropriate to use in their own writing.


Because summary and analysis are vital skills that students will use repeatedly during the semester, it is a good idea to debrief the class after returning each assignment, asking the students to discuss strategies for improvement.


In order to produce a good summary and analysis, students need to pay attention to two levels: on a global level, they need to include all of the essential elements of a summary or analysis; and at the sentence level, they need to use appropriate vocabulary and accurate syntax, including correct verb tense and appropriate transitions.

  1. Check for prior knowledge of summary and analysis.
  2. Ask students to work together in small groups to explain what a summary is and list what elements are essential for a good summary. This handout on summary, or a variation of it, is something you could share with students after a discussion of summary. Similarly, ask students to explain what constitutes a good analysis. This handout on analysis, or a variation of it, is something you could share with students after a discussion of analysis.
  3. Ask students to brainstorm verbs to report the various ways that authors could express their views.
  4. Analyze models of summary and analysis with students; have students critique them, explaining why they are successful or unsuccessful, both in terms of content and language. Possible examples include essays from the WR journal, excerpts from articles assigned in class, and (anonymous) excerpts from student essays from previous semesters.
  1. Make connections with students between class readings and the task at hand.
  2. Ask students to write a summary and analysis exercise that they will submit after peer-review and class discussion.
  3. Have students generate, and then apply, a checklist of essential elements of summary and analysis and of sample attributive verbs and transitions.

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