Break It Down!!

Reading to Learn Lesson Design

Wendy Robinson


Rationale:  When children read, they need to be able to remember what the passage is about by pulling out important information to summarize.  Summarization allows students to understand and recall the important information in reading.  Summarization must be taught and explained through rules in order to help children understand and remember what they have read.

Materials: Fish Face by Patricia Reilly Giff.  Yearling. (1984) and Ghost Tigers of the Rain Forest by Fiona Sunquist out of National Geographic Kids October, 2004 issue on pages 20 – 23. (one for each child and teacher), paper, pencils, 2 pieces of butcher paper (one blank for teacher to draw a web on and one with 5 summarization rules listed:  pick out the important details, pick out the details that are repeated or are not important and get rid of them, use easy keywords to highlight important details, list those keywords in order as they appeared in the passage, trim the list of keywords to make one topic sentence), and a checklist of summarization rules (see below) one for each student and a large one written on butcher paper for the entire class to see: 




Delete unimportant information.



Delete repeated information.



Substitute easy words for lists of items.



Add a series of events with an easy action term.



Select a topic.



Invent a topic sentence if there is not one.



The teacher will discuss the term summarization – the importance of picking important information out of the text. "If you are able to summarize what you read then you understand what is happening.  By summarizing, you are forgetting the details and focusing on the main parts, the most important information of the text.  You need to slow down on the important parts. Today we are going to learn how to summarize from an article out of National Geographic Kids.”

“Before beginning a new lesson today, lets get out our book Fish Face.   Let’s review reading silently.  I want you to open your book to the first page and read it to yourself in a whisper.  Let’s try it again with less sound.  Then I want you to go from a whisper to just moving your lips until no sound comes out."

Explain that there are five steps to summarize.  Explain the steps to the children and have them either written on a large enough piece of butcher paper for the entire class to see:  "When we summarize, we do it using five steps.  These five steps help us summarize more easily.  I have those five steps written out for you to see.  First, pick out the important details.  Second, pick out the details that are repeated or are not important and get rid of them.  Third, use easy keywords to highlight important details.  Fourth, list those keywords in order as they appeared in the passage.  Fifth, trim the list of keywords to make one topic sentence.  

“Now that we have gone over the five steps, I will model for you using the first chapter in Fish Face.  (Read the first chapter aloud to the children and apply the five steps of summarization - children should help with this process.)  "Now that we have practiced together, I would like for everyone to read chapter two silently.  When everyone is finished reading, I will show you what it means to summarize.”  After the students finish reading, have them help you summarize the chapter.  Write important facts they give you on the board.  “Now that we have written our important facts, let’s write a paragraph together.”  Have the children help you write a paragraph.  Write the paragraph summarizing chapter two on board.

“Now that we know how to summarize and write a summary paragraph, let’s look at our article Ghost Tigers of the Rain Forest.  Turn to page 20.  I would like for you to read pages 20-21 silently.  As you read, I would like for you to ask yourselves questions about what you are reading.  Remember to look for the most important details and get rid of the details that are not important or that have been repeated.  We will discuss the article when everyone has finished.”

“Now, let’s talk about what you read in the article.  I am going to draw a picture on the chart paper.  This drawing is called a web.  Webs help us organize our information and understand what we know.  Remember, to look at the summary checklist on our other chart.  Where do I put the main topic on our web? (in the middle).  What should I put in the middle of our web – what is the main topic of what we just read?  Who can give me a main point from the article?”  Give students a chance to answer and record their answers on the web.  Explain to the children that we should be able to create a paragraph that summarizes the entire article and that we can use the web to help create that summary by using the facts that we recorded.

Now I will pass out the paper for children to make their own individual webs and will have them work in pairs.  “A great way to help us summarize what we have read is by creating a web.  Who can tell me how to begin the web?  That’s right.  We place the topic of the article in the center of the paper (web).  Then we write the facts or pieces of information out to the sides and draw a line to it from the main topic.  Now I would like for each group to read the rest of the article and work together to summarize it.  Remember to use the checklist to make sure you have used all five steps for summarizing.  If you have any questions, raise your hand and I will be around to help you.”

9.  Assessment:  In order to assess the children’s understanding of summarization, I will observe the children as they work on their web.  I will compare their checklists to their webs and will have each of them write a brief summary paragraph based on their web from the article.  As I check their work, I will make sure they eliminated unimportant, repeated information that was checked of on their lists.





King, Melissa.  Get to the Point.  Reading to Learn Lesson Design.


Sealy, Staci.  Sum it up Silly!!  Reading to Learn Lesson Design.


Hall, Mariel D.  What’s the Main Idea?  Reading to Learn Lesson Design.



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