Caty Flatt
Reading to Learn
Successful Summarization


Silent reading is an important component for students to use to help them comprehend what they are reading. Upon mastering silent reading and comprehension, learning to summarize is one of the next steps.  Summarization is a very important comprehension strategy.  This lesson will focus on helping students to summarize what they read.

A copy of The Watson’s Go to Birmingham by Christopher P. Curtis (published by Delacorte) for each student, colored paper, pencils, circular laminated cut outs, dry erase markers, and masking tape.

1.  As a class the students will go to the library to pick out an informational book on their reading level.  The criteria for choosing a book will be as follows: the students will pick out an informational book and read the first page, putting down a finger for each word they cannot figure out.  After reading the page, if they have more than two fingers down the book will be considered to be too hard and they will pick another book.  The students will repeat this process until a book on their level is found.

2.  Students will begin this lesson by reviewing silent reading.  "Is anyone able to tell me what silent reading it?  Very good, silent reading is when we read to ourselves without making a sound."

3.  "Please turn to chapter two in The Watson’s Go to Birmingham and read the first two pages of that chapter silently.  I know that you have read this before, but let’s read it again to refresh our memories.  When you are finished please sit up so that I will know you are done."

4.  "Now that we have refreshed our memory of what is going on in these two pages. We are going to talk about summarization.  Does anyone have an idea of what summarization might be?  Very good!  Summarization is focusing on one part of the story and not worrying about the rest at this time."

5.  "Today we are going to make a summary map.  I would like for everyone to look up to the board.  I have some circle cutouts, a dry erase marker, and some masking tape.  Together we are going to make a summary map of the two pages we just read.  Can someone give me the main idea of this passage?  Very good.  We will write that in our first circle and let this circle be our central point of the map.  Now, we need some other major points that took place around our central event.  Does anyone have any ideas?  Good job!  You have more ideas than I do circles.  Now that we have all our ideas in the circles, we are going to draw some lines from the central circle to the outside circles.  This gives us a summarization map."

5.  "You have an opportunity now to make your own map.  I would like everyone to silently read the first few pages of your informational book and then work on a map that focuses on those pages.  If you need any help or have a question, please raise your hand and I will be around to assist you."

6.  "Now that we are all finished with our maps.  Would anyone like to come to the board to draw and explain your map?" (students come to the board and explain to the class their own summary map)

7.  "I think you all have an idea of how to summarize.  Good Job!"

The teacher will collect the students individual summary maps to evaluate their idea on summarization.  This will help the teacher to see who needs additional help.

Curtis, Christopher.  The Watson’s Go to Birmingham-1963.   Delacorte.

Pressley, Michael.  “Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and  Comprehension of Text.”  The Elementary School Journal.   Volume 1 Number 1, 1989.

Barclay O’Brien

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