“So What Are You Trying To Say Here?”
Rationale: In order for children to read a complex passage and remember what it was about, it is necessary for them to learn to summarize. Summarization aids in the understanding and recalling of important information in a text. Summarization is not a natural process for most children, so it is a skill that must be taught and explained to them as soon as they learn to read such complex information.
Materials: photocopies of the passage “Ways the Ocean Helps Us” (pgs. 39-45) from Oceans by Katharine Jones Carter (Regensteiner Publishing Enterprises, Inc., 1982), notebook paper, a pencil, poster board with summarization rules on it (see summarization rules below - #3 in procedure).
Procedure: 1.) Have you ever read an article or book, and
others ask you what it was about, you forget or have a hard time
it? Well, the ability to put a whole article or book into a few words
sentences is called summarization. Today we are going to learn how to
a passage about oceans.
2.) First, I want you to read silently the passage “Ways the Ocean Helps Us”. Silent reading allows you read at your own pace, enabling you to speed up or slow down when needed.
3.) There is a lot of information in this passage, and there is no way that we will be able to remember everything presented in it. This is why we must learn how to summarize. Summarization will help us to remember the information that is the most important. There are 6 easy rules to finding the best summary for a complex passage! (Hang up poster with rules and examples on it.) Let’s go through them: (1) take out any parts of the passage that would not change the idea if they were left out. For example, if I said, “The old lady went to the store,” her age does not really matter. It’s just important that we know that it was about a lady and she went to the store. (2) Take out any information that has been repeated. So if I said, “The flowers grew and grew. They grew so tall that they were as tall as me when I stood up straight,” it is only necessary to remember that they grew very tall. The second sentence is not needed. (3) Find a keyword that can represent a list of items. This means that when “Pam went to the store and bought carrots, apples, tomatoes, lettuce, and grapes,” we can just say that she bought fruits and vegetables instead of trying to remember every single thing from that list. This is very similar to the next rule to summarization. (4) Find a keyword that can represent a series of events. If “Johnny returned some nails at the hardware store, mailed a package at the post office, and then bought a birthday present for his brother,” we can just say that he ran some errands. Rule 5 and 6 almost go together: (5) Select a topic sentence, or (6) if there is not a sentence that explains what happened, make one up. After reading a passage, you may be able to find a sentence that tells readers exactly what the passage was telling you as you read. If not, use the information that you have gotten from the other rules, and write one yourself. For example, a summary of my earlier examples could be “A lady went to the store, the flowers grew tall, Pam bought fruits and vegetables, and Johnny ran some errands.”
4.) Now that you have seen how to apply these rules to a passage, I want you to read “Ways the Ocean Helps Us” again and follow the rules to come up with a good summary of what you read. This passage is not very long, so your summary should only be one or two sentences. Because this is a photocopy of the actual passage, you may write on it, cross out any information you do not need, or whatever. After you are finished, I will ask for a few volunteers to share your summary with the class. Let’s see how similar our summaries can be!
5.) Okay, who would like to share their summary of “Ways the Ocean Helps Us?” (Call on two or three volunteers to share, and discuss their similarities and differences. After the discussion, collect all students’ summaries.)
As your assessment, you can read all of the student summaries and see if they followed the rules correctly and came up with an accurate summary of the passage. You can do this by making a checklist of the summarization rules and checking off the steps they have accomplished.
1. Pressley, M., Johnson, C. J., Symons, S., McGoldrick, J. A., and Kurita, J. A. (1989). “Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.” The Elementary School Journal, v. 90, pp. 3-32.
2. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/insights/rouserl.html (“Whooz-z-z Can Summarize”)
3. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/insights/gullrl.html (“A Short Story!”)
4. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/insights/troharl.html (“Let’s Get to the Point”)
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