Reading to Learn

Christina Smith


Face to Face Summary!



The ultimate goal of reading instruction is comprehension, reading to learn.  In order to comprehend text, students must be able to independently use strategies that shorten text to focus on the main ideas.  Summarization is an effective, research-based strategy that aids children in comprehending text (Pressley, et. al.)  Three rules should guide summarization and its instruction:  deleting trivia and redundancies, superordinating items and events, and compositing a statement to cover everything the writer is saying.  During this lesson, students will work in pairs to practice summarization skills using our three rules to effectively comprehend text.  At the end of the lesson, students should have strategies to assist them in reading to learn.



 - Computers with internet access to National Geographic Kids website

(http://www. and chalk

- Following checklist for each of students :    
          1.  Is unimportant or redundant information left our of the summary?
          2.  Are important events and ideas stated?
          3.  Do they state the author’s main idea and supporting details?
 - Paper, highlighter, and pencil for each student

- Student copies of Earthquake!  and Mountain Lions



1.  “We have successfully learned to become fluent readers, but we are one step away from become expert readers who read to learn new information.  When your reading to learn (which you do every time you read) you have to use comprehension skills to remember the information an author is telling you in their writing.  Comprehension aides us in understanding what we are reading, tells us what is happening in a story, or the information being told in an article, and allows us to remember that information.  Summarizing is a strategy we all use to comprehend what we are reading.  When you summarize you are finding the main idea and the details that support it in your story or article.”

2.  “We have practiced how to read orally, or out loud to a group or partner.  Reading orally lets us practice our fluency.  But we have also talked about how to read silently, which means reading to ourselves inside of our head.  We read silently when we do not want to disturb other people around us.  I am going to read a sentence out loud, and I will then read it silently.  (Read:  “On sunny days I ride my bike to school”).  Can everyone tell the difference in the two ways I just read that sentence?  I want everyone to know practice their out loud and silently reading.  (Write the sentence on the board:  “We missed the game because it rained all day.”).  Very Good!

3.  “We use three rules, or ask ourselves three questions, when we summarize text.  (Write the rules on the board) They are: 1. Get rid of any unnecessary or repeated information. 2. Pick out the most important items or events. 3. Write a statement that covers everything the author is trying to say about the topic.  To summarize a text, ask yourself if you have completed our three rules.  Have you gotten rid on unnecessary or repeated information?  Have you pick out the most important events?  And lastly, have you created a statement which explains everything the author is trying to say?”

Read “What’s Going on Here?  Animal Rascals” from the National Geographic Kids website (  “I am now going to use my summarization rules to help me better comprehend what I have just read.  First I will get rid of information that is not really important, like it wasn’t really important that Peggy Williams was watching TV the night the raccoon crawled into her house.  So I will cross that information out in my article.  Next I will look for important events, like the cat’s water dish was muddy because raccoons wash off their food before eating it.  I will highlight this information in my article.  Lastly, I will make a sentence which tries to cover everything the author was trying to say in their article.  Raccoons find most of the food in the water, like crayfish and frogs, which is why they are used to washing their food before eating it, leaving Peggy Williams cat bowl muddy.”

4.  “Let’s practice summarizing together.”  Give a copy of “Earthquake!  Getting Ready”  from the National Geographic Kids website (  Read the paragraph as a class and work through together to summarize it using our summarization rules.

5.  Pass out a copy of “Mountain Lions, Face to Face” from National Geographic Kids website (  Give a brief article talk.  Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be face to face with a mountain lion?  Adults and children all over the world have come feet away from some of the most dangerous animals.  What would you do? 

6.  Instruct the student to read silently using a pencil to cross through unimportant information (rule #1) and highlight important events (rule #2).  When the students are through reading have them work in pairs to create a few comprehension sentences which state the author’s main idea (rule #3).  Students should use our three rules of summarization to guide the comprehension statement.

7.  For assessment collective the partner sentences using the following summarization checklist.

- Is unimportant or redundant information left our of the summary?

- Are important events and ideas stated?

- Do they state the author’s main idea and supporting details?



Flemming, Nell.  1, 2, 3…A Summary!

 Newman, Aline.  Animal Rascals.

 Pressley, Michael, et. al. “Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.” The Elementary School Journal. The University of Chicago (1989).

 Sunquist, Fiona.  Mountain Lions.

 Skelton, Renee.  Earthquake!

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