"Don't Memorize: Summarize!"


Reading to Learn
 Kelley Styles

Rational:         As children become better and more fluent readers it is important that they begin   to comprehend what the story is about.  In order to remember the main idea of a   story or paragraph, children must be able to summarize.  By the end of their   elementary school years, children are expected to use summarizing skills.  As   children grow older, it is imperative that children be able to recall information on   tests.  Summarization aids in the understanding and remembering of expository   tests used in science, social studies, etc.  However, it is a skill that they must know   and understand how to use.

Materials:      Paper, pencil, and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and published by    HarperCollins, Today is Monday by Eric Carle and published by Scholastic, and   Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle and published by Scholastic.


                        1. Introduce the lesson by explaining the importance of summarizing.  Tell the   students that summarization is a strategy that will help them remember the   important thing in the story, chapter of text, or informational paragraph.

                        2. Explain the six summarization rules to your students.

                                      1.  Delete unimportant information
                                      2.  Delete repeated information
                                      3.  Substitute easy terms for lists of items
                                      4.  Add a series of events with an easy action term
                                      5.  Select a topic sentence
                                      6.  Invent a topic sentence if there is none

                        3. Model the summarization rules by introducing a book you have previously read   such as Today is Monday by Eric Carle and summarize the book for them.    Explain to them that summarizing helps you remember the important facts or   points that illustrated or talked about in the book.  Ask them questions to scaffold   thinking such as "what was the most important points talked about in the book?"    "What text or points could you delete?"

                        4. Now divide the students into groups of three or four and have them read    Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle, to themselves.  Once they have read the story   let them talk among their groups, each giving a summary of the book.  Once each   child has given a summary of that book, you (the teacher) would model again for   them summarization rules and skills- saying I would summarize this book like this   (and give your summarization of the book) or information that I though was least   important was ____ I would delete this section, or the topic sentence in this book   is _____.  This shows them how to organize information and thoughts in their   minds so that they will be able to recall the important facts or information next   time.  When students begin to summarize, they do not always get the "moral or   lesson" of what they have just read, sometimes you remember insignificant facts.    This in why it is important to model again for them, once they have had an   opportunity to practice summarizing.

                        5. Now have each child read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

For assessment:      Have each child write a summary of the book The Giving Tree.  Once everyone has written their summary, read them to the class (without  disclosing the name of the author).  This will show how most summaries are worded differently, but show the same important facts and information.  Tell everyone what a great job they have done and ensure them that they will have more opportunities to use their summarization skills in the future.


Pressley, Micheal, et al.  (1989).  "Strategies that Improve Children's Memory and   Comprehension of Text."  The Elementary Journal.  Volume 90, Number 1.    University of Chicago: Chicago, Illinois.  Pages 90, 3-32.

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