Chunks, Chunks, and MORE Chunks!

Reading to Learn Lesson Design

By: Jenna Ward

Comprehension is very important for students to learn when they are learning how to read.  Summarizing is an effective strategy for students to use in order to comprehend a text.  Throughout this lesson students will learn how to summarize while they are reading.  Summarizing skills will be taught by teaching students to do the following:  delete unimportant information, delete repeated information, substitute easy terms for lists of items, substitute a series of events with one easy action term, and select/ invent a topic sentence.  Once students are able to follow these steps and summarize, they will ultimately comprehend the text.


* Copy of Tropical Regions. Macmillan Social Studies, 1987-passage. pp. 192-196 (one for each student and you)

* Chalkboard

* Chalk

* Highlighters for each child and teacher

* Overhead projector

* Paper

* Pencils

* Checklist


1.   Begin the lesson by reviewing how to read silently. Say, “Can anyone tell me what it means to read silently?  Very good, it is when we read the words with our eyes without saying anything with our mouths.  Now, here’s a harder question.  Why is it good for us to read silently?  That’s right; it helps us be able to remember what we read.  Today we are going to practice reading silently and learn how to summarize what we read.”

2.   Discuss what it means to summarize a story and the steps it takes to create a summary.  Say, “Can anyone tell me what it means to summarize a story?  (Allow time for students’ responses)  When we summarize a story it means we give a shorter version of the story where we tell only the most important parts.  There are five steps for us to follow when we are summarizing a story.  I will explain the steps and then you can practice summarizing on your own.”  (Teach the students the 5 basic steps and write them on the board so they can refer back to them.  These are the five steps:  Get rid of unimportant information, delete repeated information, substitute easy terms for lists of items, substitute a series of events with one action term that can be easily remembered, and select or create a topic sentence.

3.   Say, “Now each of you is going to get a copy of a passage entitled Tropical Regions.  I want each of you to read the first two pages silently.  When you are done with these two pages close your book and turn it over so I know you are through.”

4. “We are going to finish the passage in a few minutes, but right now I am going to show you how to use these five steps in order to create a summary of what we just read.”  (Put the passage on the overhead projector. Open it to the first page) “I am going to read the first page out loud and as I read I am going to highlight the most important information.  Then, I am going to come up with a summary incorporating the rest of the steps.”  (Model creating a summary of the first page and discuss in detail how you came up with your summary.  Say, "The passage begins listing the tropical regions.”)

5.   Give each student a highlighter.  Say, “Now you are going to summarize pages one through five.  I want you to highlight the important information like I did and be sure to use all five steps to create your summary.  When you get done, write your summary of pages 1-4 on a piece of paper.”  (While the students are working walk around and guide them.  When they are finished discuss what they came up with and how they came up with it).


Have the students read the story silently all the way through.  Get them to write a summary when they are finished.  Have them turn in their summary.  Use a checklist to decide whether or not they used the five steps in the summarizing process.

Sample Checklist:

1.   Removed unimportant/ repeated information

Yes O  No O

2.   Topic sentence given                      

Yes O  No O

3.   Only used main points                    

Yes O  No O

 4. Created easy terms to classify items     

Yes O  No O


Pressley, M., C.J. Johnson, S. Symons, J.A. McGoldrick, and J.A. Kurity (1989) Strategies that Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension od Text.  The Elementary School Journal, 90, 3-32.

Tropical Regions. Macmillan Social Studies, 1987-passage. pp. 192-196.

Alison Bradley- “Sum it Up!

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