Let's Learn to Summarize!
Reading to Learn
Katy Locklin

Rationale: Comprehension is vital for children who are reading to learn.  Being able to summarize is a good strategy for comprehension.  This lesson will help students to comprehend what they read by practicing writing summaries on reading material.

Materials: paper; pencils; Pilgrims and Indians Have Thanksgiving for each child (literature supplement to Weekly Reader Edition 1, Issue 10 November 22, 1991—it contains 8 passages)

1. Introduce the lesson by explaining to the children that understanding what is being read is very important.  "When we read books, we should be able to comprehend enough information so we can summarize.  Summarization means picking out the facts that are important and that make up the main idea of the passage.  In summarization you delete trivial or redundant information."  Tell them the summarization rules: "1. Find parts of the story that would not affect it if left out, 2. Get rid of information used more than once, 3. Find the important events in the story and use keywords to help you remember them, 4. Sum up the story in one topic sentence."
2. Ask the children to get out the literature supplement to their Weekly Reader (Pilgrims and Indians Have Thanksgiving) and silently read the first passage.  Tell them to pay attention to the facts they think are important while they are reading.
3. Model by saying, "If I wanted to summarize a passage, I would read it while thinking about the important ideas."  Use the first passage as an example.  Summarize the passage they have just read to themselves out loud for them to hear.  "Then I would write down those ideas in the summary, while looking back at the reading."
4. Allow students to choose a partner.  Ask students to write a summary together on the second passage from the supplement.  Have groups review each other's summary when finished.
5. For assessment have each student read the whole story Pilgrims and Indians Have Thanksgiving (8 passages) individually (silently) and write his or her own summaries based on the story.  Take up the papers and check their summarizations based on a checklist.

Pilgrims and Indians Have ThanksgivingWeekly Reader.  Edition 1, Issue 10. November 22, 1991.
Pressley, M., Johnson, C.J., Symons, S., McGoldrick, J.A., & Kurity, J.A. (1989). Strategies that improve children's memory and comprehension of text. The Elementary School Journal, 90, 3-32.

For more information, send e-mail to klocklin@mindspring.com

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