Summary of an Article Writing Task Directions



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Sample Summary Writing Task—Grade 7

Summary of an Article Writing Task

Directions:

• Read the following informational article.

• As you read, you may mark the article or make notes. Marks and notes will

not be scored.

• After reading the article, write a summary of what you have read. You have

60 minutes to read, plan, write, and proofread your essay.

• You may reread or go back to the article at any time during the test.
Scoring:

Your writing will be scored on how well you: • state the main ideas of the article; • identify the most important details that support the main ideas; • write your summary in your own words, except for quotations; and • express the underlying meaning of the article, not just the superficial details.


Bats

In the distant past, many people thought bats had magical powers, but times have changed. Today, many people believe that bats are rodents, that they cannot see, and that they are more likely than other animals to carry rabies. All of these beliefs are mistaken. Bats are not rodents, are not blind, and are no more likely than dogs and cats to transmit rabies. Bats, in fact, are among the least understood and least appreciated of animals.

Bats are not rodents with wings, contrary to popular belief. Like all rodents, bats are mammals, but they have a skeleton similar to the human skeleton. The bones in bat wings are much like those in arms and the human hand, with a thumb and four fingers. In bats, the bones of the arms and the four fingers of the hands are very long. This bone structure helps support the web of skin that stretches from the body to the ends of the fingers to form wings.

Although bats cannot see colors, they have good vision in both dim and bright light. Since most bats stay in darkness during the day and do their feeding at night, they do not use their vision to maneuver in the dark but use a process called echolocation. This process enables bats to emit sounds from their mouths that bounce off objects and allow them to avoid the objects when flying. They use this system to locate flying insects to feed on as well. Typically, insect-eating bats emerge at dusk and fly to streams or ponds where they feed. They catch the insects on their wingtip or tail membrane and fling them into their mouths while flying.

There are about 1,000 species of bat, ranging in size from the bumblebee bat, which is about an inch long, to the flying fox, which is 16 inches long and has a wingspan of five feet. Each type of bat has a specialized diet. For seventy percent of bats, the diet is insects. Other types of bats feed on flowers, pollen, nectar, and fruit or on small animals such as birds, mice, lizards, and frogs.

One species of bat feeds on the blood of large mammals. This is the common vampire bat, which lives only in Latin America and is probably best known for feeding on the blood of cattle. Unfortunately, in an attempt to control vampire bat populations, farmers have unintentionally killed thousands of beneficial fruit- and insect-eating bats as well.

Bats, in fact, perform a number of valuable functions. Their greatest economic value is in elimi- nating insect pests. Insect-eating bats can catch six hundred mosquitoes in an hour and eat half their body weight in insects every night. In many tropical rain forests, fruit-eating bats are the main means of spreading the seeds of tropical fruits. Nectar-feeding bats pollinate a number of tropical plants. If it were not for bats, we might not have peaches, bananas, mangoes, guavas, figs, or dates.

Today, the survival of many bat species is uncertain. Sixty percent of bats do not survive past infancy. Some are killed by predators such as owls, hawks, snakes and other meat-eating creatures, but most are victims of pesticides and other human intrusions. In Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, where there were once 8 million bats, there are now a quarter million. At Eagle Creek, Arizona, the bat population dropped from 30 million to 30 thousand in six years.

Bats often have been burdened with a bad reputation, perhaps because they are not the warm, cuddly sort of animal we love to love. However, their unusual physical features should not lead us to overestimate their harm or to underestimate their value.
Writing the Summary

Write a summary of the article. Your writing will be scored on how well you:

• state the main ideas of the article;

• identify the most important details that support the main ideas;

• write your summary in your own words, except for quotations; and

• express the underlying meaning of the article, not just the superficial details.

Sample Summary Writing Task—Grade 7

Standard


Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)

2.5 Write summaries of reading materials: a. Include the main ideas and most significant details. b. Use the student’s own words, except for quotations. c. Reflect underlying meaning, not just the superficial details.


Grade 7 Focus

For this task, students were expected to use their own words to relate the main idea and most significant details of the selection. Students who did well included only informa- tion that was in the article and avoided extraneous commentary. Effective summaries were clearly organized and included transitions, where necessary, to achieve coherence.

Sample Student Work and Teacher Commentaries for Grade 7 Summary Writing Task

Score Point 4 Essay

Student Work

Commentary


This paper demonstrates a clear understanding of purpose and audience, maintaining a consistent focus on the purpose and a consistent level of generalization throughout. The writer fully addresses the task, covering the article in appropriate balance and suggest- ing connections between the main and subordinate ideas. The central idea is clearly stated and is supported with the most signifi- cant details.

The writer does an excellent job of paraphras- ing, often summarizing in a concise phrase information that is explained in detail in the article. Although most sentences are not elaborate, the writing contains a mixture of sentence structures. The summary contains an occasional awkward phrase, but these do not impede understanding. The final sentence is an excellent example of summary that skillfully captures the meaning of the final paragraph and the article as a whole.

The writer uses transitions well within and between paragraphs and demonstrates outstanding knowledge of the conventions of English.

A ready vocabulary and skill at synthesizing detailed discussion into a word or phrase are the writer’s greatest strengths. These enable the writer to express ideas at an appropriate level of generality and, for the most part, in the writer’s own words.


In contrast to some mistaken beliefs, bats are not blind rodents that usually have rabies. They have sight, are mammals, and are not especially likely to carry rabies. Bats are relatively misunder- stood and unappreciated.

Bats have similar bone structure and skel- etons to that of humans, so they are not winged rodents. They are color blind, so they use echoloca- tion if there is not sufficient light. Otherwise, their sight is enough.

Species of bat total about a thousand, with different sizes and unique diets. Most eat insects, but some eat plant products and small animals.

Only vampire bats drink blood, which is harmful. Farmers have accidentally killed many innocent bats while trying to rid themselves of vampire bats.

Among their helpful actions, an important trait of bats is their ability to destroy many un- wanted bugs. They also spread fruit seeds and pollinate plants.

Bat survival is not known, because many bats are killed by human disruptions and predators. The bat population has dropped steadily, and may con- tinue to drop. Hopefully, we will realize that al- though bats look different than our favorite ani- mals, we can learn to accept and admire their value and uniqueness.


Sample Student Work and Teacher Commentaries for Grade 7 Summary Writing Task

Score Point 3 Essay
Student Work

Commentary

This writer addresses all parts of the task, covering the important ideas and including some details. The writer understands the purpose of the task, as indicated by a state- ment of the article’s main idea in the opening paragraph and use of paraphrasing through most of the summary. The organizational structure is mostly consistent, and the writer demonstrates understanding of relationships among ideas by combining information from the article into three coherent body para- graphs. The summary contains a mixture of simple and more complex sentences. The writer demonstrates some effective use of transitions: “However, bats don’t use their eyes to maneuver at night,” and, to suggest contrast, “Bats are actually good animals.”

One important difference between this and a score point 4 summary is the inclusion of inessential details. Rather than encapsulating information, this writer achieves a degree of brevity by omitting some details while retaining others. This is most apparent in the second paragraph where the writer includes nearly all details on echolocation except those in the final two sentences of the echolocation paragraph. In addition, this summary often does not suggest connections between details and the central idea. In the middle of the summary, for example, information is not clearly tied to the idea that bats are misunder- stood.

This summary has some errors in sentence structure and mechanics, but most of these are probably first-draft in nature.

Bats are so misunderstood by people today. People think that bats are rodents, creatures that cannot see, and animals that have a higher chance of carrying rabies. This is all not true, people probably say it because bats are really not appreciated.

Bats are mammals and can see well. A bat’s skeleton is similar to a human’s. For example, the bat has a thumb and four fingers just like a human execpt that skin spreads out across the fingers to make the wing. Bats cannot see color but can still see during day or night. However, bats don’t use their eyes at night, they use a method called echolocation. The way echolocation works is the bat makes a noise from its mouth that bounces off the object so the bat can avoid it. They also use echolocation to find flying insects to eat.

There are about 1,000 species of bats. They can vary in size, for example a flying fox is 16 inches long and has wings five feet wide. Also bats can vary in diet. Most bats eat insects while others eat flow- ers, pollen, nectar, and fruit or on small animals. There is one species that eats large animals, which is a vampire bat. The vampire bat mostly feeds on cattle.

Bats do many useful things. They kill insect pests, and fruit bats spread seeds. Unfortunately bats have been killed being mistaken for Vampire bats. “In Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, where there were once 8 million bats, there are now a quarter million.

Bats are actually good animals. We just believe things that are not true. Bats help us in many ways.

Sample Student Work and Teacher Commentaries for Grade 7 Summary Writing Task

Score Point 2 Essay

Student Work

Commentary

Because this summary contains only some ideas from the article, it does not fully address the writing task. The gaps in information indicate the writer has little sense of the purpose of summary. The writer does not mention the benefits of bats, for example, which are important in supporting the article’s thesis. Organization within paragraphs is weak. Several statements that bats are misunderstood indicate the writer understands the article, but information following these statements is not linked to this idea. Within the essay as a whole organization is weak as well, with paragraphs following one another in an almost haphazard manner. A lack of transitions exacerbates the sense of disorganization. Taken by themselves, sentences show competence, with the “Most...Other...” structure of consecutive sentences in paragraphs 3 and 4 suggesting the writer can exercise control over sentence structure. There are errors in the conventions of English, but these do not interfere with understanding.
There are about a 1,000 species of bat ranging in size from 1 inch to 16 inches. A long time ago people thought bats had magical powers, and were rodents. The people who thought that were wrong.

Bats are misunderstood because they are not warm and cuddly like the dogs and cats we all love. Although bats are color blind, they do have radar that enables them to see in the dark.

Each bat has there own personal diet that is specialized to fit there DNA. Most bats feed on flowers, pollen, necter, fruit, but mainly insects. Other bats feed on tropical fruit.

Farmers will kill bats because of there misunderstanding. Most farmers are affrid that they will destroy fruit orchards. Other farmers are affraid that the most common vampire bat will feed on the blood of there cattle.

In conclusion for the misunderstanding of the bats, people are often destroying the bat population.

Sample Student Work and Teacher Commentaries for Grade 7 Summary Writing Task

Score Point 1 Essay

Student Work

Commentary

The writer clearly states the idea that bats are misunderstood, but the rest of the summary fails to support this idea. The summary contains substantial gaps in information and after the first sentence focuses on details with no attempt to show how these support the main idea. The focus on facts unrelated to the article’s thesis suggests the writer has little sense of the purpose of summary. The writer often paraphrases, but this typically consists of rewording rather than summarizing details. The writing is marred less by a lack of sentence variety than by run-on sentences, such as the second sentence in the first paragraph, and rambling sentences like the last sentence in the first paragraph. The summary contains errors in the conventions of English that interfere with understanding. These errors include lack of capitals at the beginning of sentences, lack of periods at ends of sen- tences, numerous misspellings, and improper noun-pronoun agreement.


The main idea of thei story is that bats are misundstude. bats can see just as well as humans at night they use a tecnice called ecolocation. Ecolocation is where bats genarate a sound through thier mouth witch hits objects so they can avoid it wile flying.

There are about 1,000 specs of bats. bats come in all sizes and shapes from the bumblebee bats (smallest) to the flying foxes bats (largest).



bats can eat 50% of thier body wieght in insects every night. The way they eat insects is by scooping them up on their wing or tail membrain and flipping them in their mouth.

The bats skelitull stucture is alot like the humans.


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