Removing the 'Junky' Words

By: S. Davis Brooks
Reading to Learn

Rational:  The goal of reading is being able to comprehend what has been read.  Understanding the main idea is the goal of comprehension.  This lesson will help teach children how to understand and comprehend a story through summarization.

Materials: A practice worksheet and a post-test worksheet.

1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that when we read there are a lot of extra, unnecessary, junky words.  Our goal is to learn to not pay attention to the trivial words.  Once the unnecessary words are ignored, then it's easier to summarize.  Explain to the students what summarizing exactly is, by giving them a formal definition.  (summarization: presented in condensed form).  After presenting the formal definition, it will help to put it in more layman's terms…Students, "this means, only mention the important words or the words that stand out, the words that devote true meaning to the sentence(s)."
2. Next, write the following sentences on the board: Richard, who has a pet named Chip, went to the store today to buy milk and a loaf of bread.  When he got to the checkout line, he realized that he didn't have enough money to pay for his groceries.
3. (teacher only)  Slowly, go through the sentence and evaluate the words individually to see which words or phrases really add meaning to the sentence.  Tell the students, " 'Richard went to the store and he didn't have enough money to pay for his groceries;' is the main point of the sentence.  Therefore, the phrases that could have been left out were:  'who has a pet named Chip,' and 'went to the store to buy milk and a loaf of bread.' "   Continue to explain that if those words were never put into the sentence, we would still have been able to grasp the concept of the sentence.
4. (teacher and students) Repeat #2 and #3 using a different sentence:  Susan just got in from California and is making five loaves of banana bread for the PTA meeting she has to attend later tonight.  This will now give the students an opportunity to dissect the sentence and evaluate the word(s), but doing so with guidance from the teacher.
5. When the teacher thinks that the students are beginning to have an understanding of summarizing, then it is time for individual practice.  A worksheet with 12 different exercise problems will be handled out to the students to complete.  This will work on silent reading.
6. The directions for the worksheet are as follows:  circle the important word(s) in the sentence and put a line through the word(s) that are irrelevant.  Then write one or two sentence that tells the make idea(s) of the sentences.
7. When everyone is finished with the worksheet, we will go over the correct answers as a class.
8. If there are any sentences that multiple students summarized incorrectly, then the teacher will review by writing the sentence on the board, and proceed just like in #2 and #3.  By doing this the students will be able to realize what they did wrong and correct themselves.
9. For assessment, the students will be handed out a post-test worksheet, containing five sentence exercises on it (very similar to the worksheet that they just completed).  After the students finish the post-test, they are to turn it in to be check by me for a grade.
10. From the grades, the teacher will evaluate if the students have shown mastery and can move on, or if the lesson need to be repeated; and possibly repeated in a different structure and approach.

Murray, Dr. Bruce. 2001.  The Reading Genie Website.  Reading to learn:

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