Short and Sweet Summarization

Reading to Learn
 

 

Caitlin Steeb

 

Rationale:

In order for students to be able to read to learn, rather than learn to read, students need to be able to summarize a large body of text by distinguishing between trivial and important information.  This lesson will teach students to use the summarization strategy by first listening and watching a teacher’s explanation and modeling of the strategy, summarizing a text through guided practice, and lastly individually summarizing a text and answering comprehension questions. 

 

Materials:

Jane Goodall Naturalist by J.A. Senn, overhead of pages 5, 9 in Jane Goodall Naturalist by J.A. Senn; overhead pens (1); photocopies of pages 9-12 Jane Goodall Naturalist by J.A. Senn(enough for each student); assessment passage pg. 13 Jane Goodall Naturalist by J.A. Senn (one for each student); assessment checklist (one for each student)

 

Procedures:

Explain to students why strategy is valuable

Say:  Summarizing, or picking out the most important parts of a text, is a great strategy to use when reading a longer book that is explaining a topic, instead of telling a story.           There can be so much information that it can get overwhelming, but if we use summarization, we will know the most important parts of the text and won’t have to bother ourselves with extra information that doesn’t help us understand the topic.   

Review or teach background knowledge

Say:  There is some new vocabulary in our book for today.  The new words are extinct, habitat, poacher, and species.  Let’s look closer at what the word poacher means.  A poacher is a person who kills or catches wild animals even though it is against the law.  A poacher doesn’t follow the law and hurts wild animals when they are supposed to be left alone.  They often kill wild animals so they can sell their skin or tusks to make money.  Poachers are not good people; if caught they are arrested for their cruel treatment of wild animals.  Which one of these is more like a poacher:  someone who works at an animal shelter or someone who goes into an animals’ home when they are not supposed to?  A veterinarian or someone who hunts animals when they are not supposed to?  Can you all finish this sentence for me:  The poacher went to Africa to find elephants so he could… (Possible completion: kill the elephants and sell their tusks for money.)

Explain how to use new concept or strategy

Say:  When we want to summarize a passage, we will read a little bit of text at a time, such as a paragraph or page, and then stop.  We then go back and figure out what pieces of information were most important from the passage.  We get rid of information that doesn’t add anything valuable to the main idea.  Summarizing allows us to understand what is most important when given a large piece of text.  We have to be very picky to only choose the information that is most important to the main idea so our summary is short and sweet!

Model the new concept or strategy

Say:  Let’s see how I can summarize this paragraph.  Ok, I only want to know the most important parts of this paragraph.  So I am going to read the whole paragraph through first.  Jane Goodall has spent more than 30 years in Africa, where she has devoted all her time to studying chimpanzees.  Before she began her life’s work, no one knew much about these animals.  But, Jane’s hard work has led to important discoveries (pg. 5). 

Say:  Alright, that paragraph gave us a lot of information.  Now, I am going to go back and underline only the important details, ones that are necessary to get the main idea of the paragraph.  I just want to know who the paragraph is about and why that person is important for me to know about.  The paragraph mentions Jane Goodall, that must be who this paragraph is about.  Jane Goodall has spent more than 30 years in Africa, where she has devoted all her time to studying chimpanzees.  Before she began her life’s work, no one knew much about these animals.  But, Jane’s hard work has led to important discoveries. Why is she important?  It says that her studies led to important discoveries. 

Say:  Does everyone see how some of the sentences and words do not need to be included in our summary because they are not the most important pieces of information.  What’s important, and therefore, becomes our summary is: Thirty years of studying in Africa led Jane Goodall to important discoveries. 

Simple practice under teacher guidance

Say:  Now that we all have an idea of how summarizing works, let’s try to summarize a passage together.  Jane’s mother quickly recognized her daughter’s love of all creatures - a love that would continue throughout Jane’s life.  When Jane was very young, Mrs. Goodall presented her daughter with Jubilee, a stuffed chimpanzee toy.  It soon became Jane’s favorite traveling companion - she took it everywhere she went.  Even today, many years later, Jubilee is still one of Jane’s most cherished possessions (pg. 9). 

Say:  Let’s try to pick out what is most important in this paragraph so we can make a short and sweet summary.  We need to know what it’s about and why it’s important.  Let’s underline the most important parts.  Jane’s mother quickly recognized her daughter’s love of all creatures - a love that would continue throughout Jane’s life.  When Jane was very young, Mrs. Goodall presented her daughter with Jubilee, a stuffed chimpanzee toy.  It soon became Jane’s favorite traveling companion - she took it everywhere she went.  Even today, many years later, Jubilee is still one of Jane’s most cherished possessions.

Say:  Now we can put together the most important pieces to make our summary - Jane’s mother recognized her love of creatures and gave Jane a stuffed chimpanzee toy, that is still a cherished possessions.  This summary tells us the main idea of the paragraph without having to include all of the unimportant details and “fluff”. 

Whole texts

Say:  We are going to continue practicing summarizing today, making summaries that are short and sweet and that only include the most important pieces of information from the text.  We are going to continue reading Jane Goodall Naturalist by J.A. Senn about the famous naturalist Jane Goodall who devoted her life to saving chimpanzees in Africa from becoming extinct.  We will get to learn all about her amazing contributions to the animal world in this text.

Say:  I want you each to read pages 9 through 12 and write a 2 sentence summary for each page.  When did Jane’s love for animals begin?  Who inspired her to go to Africa?  How did she get to Africa?  Make sure you are focusing on the main idea and don’t include trivial information, like examples, extra adjectives, opinions, and detailed explanations. 

Assessment

Say:  I am going to call you each up one by one to read and summarize another passage from our text and answer comprehension questions about what you have just read. 

Have students read and summarize pg. 13, using the summarization checklist (When summarizing did the student...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?). 

Ask comprehension questions:  Who did Jane work for?  What kind of work was she doing?  Why did Jane want to work elsewhere?  What job would you move across the world for, like Jane did?

 

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:

 

Backer, Katie.  Ready, Set, Summarize!  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/doorways/backerrl.htm

 

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

 

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