This is way of de-constructing a text in order to see how the parts fit together. A good summary must represent all of the parts of a piece of writing.
Make two columns. Left column is the "says" column. Right column is the "does" column. Write a phrase or sentence in the left column to summarize the key point of the paragraph. In the right column, describe what the paragraph does for the reader...for example...introduces the topic.... introduces a new point, expands the point of the previous paragraph, etc. Does sentences should not mention the content of the paragraph.
A says sentence summarizes the meaning or message. A does sentence describes the function of what the paragraph or piece is trying to do or accomplish with readers (for example, "This paragraph introduces the topic of the essay by means of a humorous anecdote" or "This paragraph brings up an objection that some readers might feel, and then tries to answer that objection"). The key to writing does sentences is to keep them different from the says sentences—keep them from even mentioning the content of the paragraph. Thus, you shouldn't be able to tell from a does sentence whether the paragraph is talking about cars or ice cream.
Here is a does sentence that slides into being a says sentence: "This paragraph gives an example of how women's liberation has affected men more than it has women." To make it a real does sentence, remove any mention of the ideas or content and talk only about function: "This paragraph gives an example" would do. Or perhaps better, "This paragraph gives an example designed to surprise the reader." The says/ does exercise should help you to see how the points of the essay fit together.
Other pointers for developing skills in getting the gist/summary-writing:
Get clear what the purpose of the summary is—-in what context and for what purpose
As you read, mark sentences that seem to present "big picture" or "gist" or "bottom line"—i.e. pick out main ideas
Sometimes the text doesn't state the main point. . You need to extrapolate and articulate from the details
Analyze parts of the text in relation to the whole. -This will help you to see what's important and what's not
Sometimes what's important to you is different than what the author was emphasizing, ...that's okay
Most critical—-don't interject your opinion. . A summary is a report, a recasting of material, being as true to the original text as you can
A good way to