Super Summaries

Reading to Learn
Carley Leavitt


Rationale:  Summarization is a very important component of reading comprehension. We want the students to only remember the important ideas of the passage and learning how to correctly summarize will teach the students how to do this. I will first explain summarization to the students, and then I will model it to the students. Next, the students will have the chance to practice the new reading strategy. Finally, I will assess their new learning. In order to teach summarization, limit the rules that you give the students. Present them with these guidelines when summarizing: Delete trivial and redundant information, underline or gather the important ideas, and generate a topic sentence that expresses the main idea. The students will be assessed with a reading comprehension checklist.

Materials: Copy of Jane Goodall: Naturalist for each student (use pages 27-34), pencil for each student, Summarization checklist for each student, steps written on board (1. delete trivial and redundant information, 2. underline the important ideas, 3. create a topic sentence that expresses the main idea)

Procedures:

1. Explain why: We have spent a lot of time working on fluency when reading our text. You have all become very fluent readers. Today we are going to learn a new strategy that will help you become even stronger readers! We are going to learn how to create a good summary. Summarization is important because it helps us understand what is going on in the story. When summarizing, it is important to look for the main idea or the important ideas in the text because only the main ideas will help us figure out what is going on in the story. We do not want to pay any attention to the trivial ideas.

2. Background Knowledge/Vocabulary:

Explain: We are going to go over some new vocabulary words that we will see when we read Jane Goodall: Naturalist. Our words are poacher, vegetation, discovery, and extinction. Let's look specifically at what the word extinction means. Extinction is the coming to the end or dying out. A species, or type of animal, becomes extinct when that type of animal no longer exists. 

Use: Dinosaurs are extinct because there are no more left on the Earth. An animal that is not extinct is a chimpanzee because we know that there are still chimpanzees on the earth.

Which one of these is more likely extinct: Poodles or Oriente Cave Rat? A tiger or Toolache wallaby?

Finish this sentence: The dinosaurs are extinct because . . .

                Possible completion: 

                . . . there are no longer any dinosaurs that walk the Earth.

3. Explain summarization: When we summarize a text we pick out the most important information and create one sentence that includes all of the important information you picked out. In order to do this we are first going to delete trivial and redundant information, then we will underline the important ideas, and then create a topic sentence that expresses the main idea.

4. Model: Let me show you how I am going to do this. I‘ll cross out unimportant details, then underline important ideas & put it into 1 sentence (Can be found on pg 27-28).

Say: I will read the whole paragraph first. I only want to know the most important parts of the paragraph.

One of the most amazing things Jane observed during those weeks on the peak was the way the chimps made nests, or beds, in the trees at night. One evening, for example, Jane watched while David Graybeard made his nest. First he looked for a sturdy foundation. Usually this was two or three branches that came together in the shape of a fork. When he found a good foundation, he stood in the center of it and bent down a number of the smaller branches from each side. With swift movements, he placed the leafy ends across the foundation. With his feet, he held all of these in place. Then with his hands, he bent in all the little leafy twigs that stuck around the nest. Finally his nest was ready-in just about three minutes. But something must have been wrong. He seemed to be uncomfortable. After lying in it for a few minutes, he abruptly sat up. Then he grabbed another handful of leafy twigs, put them under his head, and happily settled down for the night.

Say: Ok this is one big paragraph with a lot of information in it. I will now go back and underline the most important parts and cross out the details that I do not need to know. I just want to know who the paragraph is about and what they did. We cross out everything else that is off topic, for example opinions or descriptions.

One of the most amazing things Jane observed during those weeks on the peak was the way the chimps made nests, or beds, in the trees at night. One evening, for example, Jane watched while David Graybeard made his nest. First he looked for a sturdy foundation. Usually this was two or three branches that came together in the shape of a fork. When he found a good foundation, he stood in the center of it and bent down a number of the smaller branches from each side. With swift movements, he placed the leafy ends across the foundation. With his feet, he held all of these in place. Then with his hands, he bent in all the little leafy twigs that stuck around the nest. Finally his nest was ready-in just about three minutes. But something must have been wrong. He seemed to be uncomfortable. After lying in it for a few minutes, he abruptly sat up. Then he grabbed another handful of leafy twigs, put them under his head, and happily settled down for the night.

Summary: Jane Goodall observed how chimpanzees make their nests in trees to sleep in during the night. They require a sturdy foundation and a lot of work but it doesn’t take long for the chimpanzees to build them! 

Say: Ok see how I picked out the most important information and combined it into a sentence. Jane Goodall observed how chimpanzees made nests in trees.

5. Simple Guided Practice: Let's try summarizing a paragraph together (Can be found on pg 28-29).

Jane noticed that all the chimps made their own nests-except the young ones. Up to the age of three, chimps shared a nest with their mothers. Since chimps are constantly moving from place to place, they make a new nest each night. Sometimes, after the chimps left their nests, Jane would climb up the trees to look at them more closely. She was often amazed to see how cleverly the branches had been woven together.

Say: Let’s ask ourselves a few guiding questions about the paragraph in order to help us come up with a precise summary…

What does this paragraph tell us about the chimp’s nests? They make good nests.

Why are the nests good? Chimpanzees are good at making nests because they make a new one each night moving from place to place.

Summary: Chimpanzees have a lot of practice at making nests because they move from place to place.

6. Whole Texts: Say: "Today we will practice our summarizing skills with the book, Jane Goodall: Naturalist by J.A. Senn."
Book talk: Jane Goodall is a famous scientist and researcher who spent more than 30 years observing and interacting with chimpanzees. Many people believe that she is the reason that African chimpanzees are not extinct. She has helped people learn a lot about these chimpanzees which have led to many important discoveries. Let's keep reading to find out more about Jane Goodall and the chimpanzees.


Say: "Today, we will read pages 29-34. What kind of observations do you think Goodall learned about the chimpanzees? While reading, stop and write a summarizing sentence after each page. If you forget how to write a summary then I will have the steps on the board.” 

7. Assessment: Say: "You will now read the paragraph on page 34; it is titled Physical Contact. I want each of you to read this one paragraph and then using the rules we have learned about summarization to create a summary." I will then call each student up to my desk for students to demonstrate use of their strategy or evaluate student class work using a checklist. 

Ask comprehension questions – How & why rather than trivia questions.

For example: Why do you think Goodall was not able to create any personal relationships with the chimpanzees during the first year?

When summarizing, did the student…

Yes

No

Delete unimportant information?

 

 

Delete repeated information?

 

 

Organize items with a big idea?

 

 

Select a topic?

 

 

Write an inclusive, simple topic sentence to summarize the passage?

 

 

 

References:

Johnson, Ally. Super Summarizers! http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invitations/johnsonrl.htm

Senn, J. A. Jane Goodall, Naturalist. Woodbridge, CT: Blackbirch, 1993. Print

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