It Doesn't Take Magic to Be Able to Be Able to Comprehend,
                It Just Takes Summarization Know How!
Renee McInnish
Reading to Learn

Rationale: The main goal of reading is for the reader to comprehend what they have read.  It is not enough that the person can read the text, but the person must also be able to understand what the author is implying in the text.

Materials:  Bennet, William J.  The Children’s Book of Heroes  Hague, Michael.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. 29-35 & 86-90 for all students and teacher.  Pen and paper for all students.

1. Review silent reading.  Remind students why it is important to read silently.  When we read silently we are able to read more words than when we read aloud, because we are able to read faster.  What does it mean to read silently?  Yes, it means to read each word without making any sound.  Another reason that we read silently is so that we don’t disturb others who are around us.  Watch as I read this paragraph.  Did anyone hear me say anything?  No?  Good.  Also, I was able to read that paragraph faster silently than if I had read it aloud to you, because when I am reading to you I want to make sure that I read slow enough that you can understand me and my words don’t sound all ran together.  Listen when I read this paragraph aloud as fast as I can read.  Read paragraph aloud as fast as you can.  Was it hard to follow along?  Yes, it is hard to enjoy listening to someone read to fast.  Now let me read it at a normal reading aloud speed.  Read paragraph again at a normal read aloud speed.  Was that more enjoyable?  Did you get more from it?  Yes, but notice that when I read aloud accurately, I’m not reading as fast as I can.  Also, I’m still a little slower than I would be if I were reading silently, because I still have to make the effort to say each word aloud.  Also, if I was reading aloud while you were trying to read something aloud and while everyone else in the room was trying to read aloud, don’t you think it would be very hard to concentrate?  Yes, I know it would be very disrupting to me.

2. Well today we are going to practice reading silently, but we are going to also learn how to better comprehend the materials that we are reading to ourselves.  Our main goal when we read is to understand what we have read and to get the most out of the material we have read.  Today I’m going to teach you how to get the most out of the text you read.

3. Read to the class the story “Jackie Robinson” in The Children’s Book of Heroes.  After finishing the story model for the students how to summarize the story.  Tell them that we are going to write the key points of the story. Have all students turn to page 29 in their books so that they can follow along with you.  Tell them that we are going to look at a paragraph at a time and decide on what the main thing that the author is trying to tell us in that paragraph.  Then write the decided main idea on the board.  When finished analyzing every paragraph with the students.  Go back over the main ideas with them and delete any redundant or non-important ideas.  Make a final summarization list.  The final summarization should look similar to the one below.
“Jackie Robinson” summarized:
· Loved to play baseball.
· Year was 1945 and because he was African-American he was not allowed to play for the major leagues.   He had to play on the Negro League instead.
· The man who ran the Dodgers, a major league baseball team, asked Jackie to play for him.
· He informed Jackie that he would be made fun of a lot and treated badly because of his color, but that Jackie could never get mad back.  If he did it would just make matters worse.
· People soon realized that the color of someone’s skin did not affect their playing ability.
· Jackie won Rookie of the Year his first year playing major league baseball.

4. Pass out The Children’s Book of Heroes to your students.  Class, I want you to turn to page 86 and read “Helen Keller’s Teacher” silently to yourself.  You need to read page 86 to page 90.

5. When the students have had enough time to read the story quietly, have them take out their pencils and paper.  Students, I now want you to summarize “Helen Keller’s Teacher” the same way that we summarized “Jackie Robinson.”  I want you to go back and look at each paragraph and decide on the main thing that you believe the author is trying to tell you.  When finished doing this for every paragraph, go back and delete any redundant or non-important information.  Decide on the main points that you think the author is trying to convey and make a final list of your summary sentences.

6. When the students are finished, discuss the summaries together, writing the summary sentences on the board for the entire class to see.  Allowing the students to see the summary sentences on the board will help them feel more confident about what they wrote and may clarify more how to correctly summarize.  You will need to work on this strategy continuously in order that the students grasp it and understand how to use it.  When students understand how to effectively summarize, their comprehension of materials read will improve.  Therefore reading test scores will improve as well.

7. Have the students turn in their papers so you can check their summarization list.

Pressley, Michael; Johnson, Carla; Symons, Sonya; McGoldrick, Jacqueline A. & Kurita, Janice A. (1999).  “Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text,” The Elementary School Journal, 90, pp. 2-31.

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