Let’s Put it in a Nutshell!


Reading to Learn Design

Maria Jackson

Reading Comprehension is one of the most important components to learning how to read.   Once children have learned how to read the words on the page, we have to teach them how to develop their comprehension skills as they read.  One way that students can learn comprehension skills is through learning the steps of summarization.  Summarization teaches students how to adequately sum up what they have read.  This lesson will teach students the six steps of summarization.  Students will also get a fair amount of practice summarizing the second chapter of a book that they have already been assigned to read.

plain white paper
a copy of Tuck Everlasting  by Natalie Babbitt for every student
butcher paper
construction paper

1. Assign chapters one and two of Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt for each student to read one week before this lesson is performed.  Get the students excited about the book by giving them a quick book talk the day that it is assigned.  Tell them that this book is about the Tuck family that found a real fountain of youth.  One day little Winnie Foster discovers this family in her attempt to run away, and her whole life gets turned upside down.  Now Winne knows about the fountain and the Tuck family secret and she has to decide if she wants to drink the water and be immortal too.  What do you think Winnie will do?

2. I’m so glad that we have all read Tuck Everlasting for our lesson today.  I hope you all enjoyed this part of the book as much as I did.  Did everyone get a chance to finish chapters one and two?  Great!  Now that we have all finished the reading we are going to practice writing a summary. Does anyone know what a summary is? Well it is a basic description of the plot and characters in a story. Writing summaries helps you to remember things that you read, and it helps you think through what happened in the story.  Sometimes people say that when you summarize something, you are putting it in a nutshell.  Today we are going to learn how to put something we read into a nutshell!

3. Now, everyone take out your books and re-read chapter two to yourselves.  Get out a piece of paper and pencil before you begin the chapter.  As you go along write down events, characters or details that you think are some of the most important facts about the story.  For example, the first thing that I am going to write down as I re-read chapter two are the names of the characters that have been introduced and a little bit of information about each character.  Remember to read silently.  In loud not out loud.   When we read inside our heads and not  outside, everyone can read at the same time. 

4. While they are reading be hanging up the butcher paper so that you can draw the map out and have your students copy it.  Once the students have finished, begin explaining story mapping.  Now we are going to start summing up chapter two of our book. We are going to use a story map to help us.  Does anyone know what a story map is?  (Wait and call on students.)  Those are some good descriptions.  Now, I want you all to take out your main ideas that you wrote down, and two blank pieces of paper. I have drawn one large circle with six small circles around them with arrows pointing at the large circle. In the middle circle I have written "Tuck Everlasting: Chapter Two" because that is what we are writing out summaries about. Now in each of the six smaller circles we are going to write some of the important facts that you picked out from chapter two.  For example, I might write the mother’s name, Mae Tuck, in one circle.  What other things do you think we should include in these circles?  Talk about answers given by students with the class, and write the final answers in the story map circles. 

5. Together we will complete the story map. Make sure that each student is copying what you are writing on the butcher paper. Now we are all going to "sum up" chapter two in only three to five sentences using the ideas that we wrote down in the circles. Write down the summary that the class comes up with on the chalkboard. What do you think about this new idea of summarizing?  Does anyone have any questions?  (Wait and Answer)  Good job!

6. Now I want you all to re-read the third chapter silently to yourselves.  I want you to individually make up a story map about chapter three.   Give them all enough time to finish.  Once the have finished ask for a volunteer to come up to the board and write down the majority of the classes ideas on a clean sheet of butcher paper. Now I need another volunteer to come up to the board and use the story map to make a 3 to 5 sentence summarization.  We will all help and work together. 

7. You all have done a great job!  I bet you are recognizing things about the book that maybe you didn’t even realize before.  You have really learned how to put things into a nutshell!!  Since we have done the first two chapters together, I am going to split you into groups of two and assign each group a different chapter. I want you all to write down your own map on one peice of paper and your three to five sentence summaries on the other sheet of paper. Everyone understand?  Good! Get started and I will walk around and answer your questions as they come up.  Once the class has finished this, give them markers and construction paper and have them cut out their story maps and summaries.  Tell them to paste them to the construction paper, decorate them and clearly label the chapter they have done.  Inform the class that after school you will laminate the story maps for each chapter, and put them in order on the wall.  Once we have summarized each chapter of the book, the entire book will be clearly shown in a nutshell on your wall in the room.  Tell the students to feel free to explore the summaries in the following weeks so that they can learn from you and their classmates to improve their own summarization skills. 

I will assess the students by looking over their group summaries and walking around the room to make sure that both members of the group are equally participating in the summarization process.  I will check to see that their summary is correct by using the following checklist for each summary.

        1. No useless information.
        2. No redundant facts.
        3. Forming of 3-5 sentence summarization from important information.


Asbury, Sarah. Let’s Sum It Up.  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/insp/asburyrl.html.

Babbitt, Natalie.  Tuck Everlasting.  Sunburst, c1975.  171pp.

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