Far-Out Summarizing

Reading To Learn

Caroline Perry

I. Rationale: Students need to comprehend what they are reading in order to get the message. Summarization is important because without it children couldn't understand the main idea of a reading. Students will be given an article to read and will need to highlight unimportant information and then will have to create a topic sentence. Creating a topic/summary sentence will help organize the text and give the children a clear view of what the main idea is.

II. Materials: overhead projector, overhead transparency of example paragraphs from Thirsty Planet, printed out copies of Far-Out Foods (enough for the class), highlighters for each child, rubrics (Delete unimportant information? Delete repeated information? Organize items with a big idea? Select a topic? Write an inclusive, simple topic sentence to summarize the passage? ), poster with the three rules for summarizing

III. Procedure:

1. "Today we are going to work on summarizing a passage. Does anyone know how to summarize? When we summarize, we put together the main ideas of the passage and that makes it easier for us to comprehend what we are reading. It is important to know how to summarize so we can get the message that the passage is trying to give us. There are three rules for summarizing (rules will be written on a poster). Rule one: delete trivial and redundant information. Rule two: substitute superordinate terms or category word for lists of items/events. Rule three: generate a topic sentence that expresses the main idea. A superordinate term is like a broad category. For example, if I said cat, dog, mouse, kangaroo, and horse and asked you to give me a term that applies to all of the words, you would say animal. Using the word animal to sum up the list of individual animals is using a superordinate term."

2. "I'm going to explain a new vocabulary word that is in the text we are going to read today. Evaporate means to dry up. You might have heard this word before. Think about when it rains. The water comes out of the sky and onto the ground. What happens to the extra water that is left in puddles on the sidewalk? That water evaporates back into the sky. Which is more likely to evaporate if you left it outside: a hotdog or a glass of water? That's right, the glass of water would evaporate (not the glass itself of course), but the hotdog wouldn't evaporate because it's a solid. Only liquids can evaporate. Finish this sentence about evaporation: The puddle on the ground will evaporate because…. (possible answer: it is a liquid and liquids evaporate)." I would teach vapor and condense as new vocabulary words.

3. "I'm going to show you how to summarize. I'm going to read the first paragraph of an article and summarize the main idea. I'm going to eliminate details that are descriptions, examples, and definitions. Everyone look at the overhead and see how I highlight the important information. This article is about the water on our Earth. Most of the water on Earth isn't clean and this article explains water's cycle.

Each day, the villagers of Marsabit, Kenya, gather at the "singing well." They sing as they draw water from a well. With little water to spare, each can fill just one large jug. ("This detail tells us that they don't have big access to water, but it's not main idea")

The Wonder of Water

"I see the word water written many times, so our article must be about water. Now I need to find out the big idea about water."

Water covers 70 percent of Earth's surface. ("That seems important so I'm going to keep it) So why do the people of Marsabit struggle to get enough of it?  ("This is a detail we don't need) We can't use most of Earth's water. Nearly 97 percent is salty or otherwise undrinkable. Another two percent is locked up in glaciers and ice caps. That leaves only one percent. People, plants, and animals depend on that one percent of fresh water. ("The reason I'm crossing this out is because it's just information about why water is not used, even though there's a lot of it").

Each drop of water is always on the move. The water we drink is a liquid. It can also be a solid or a vapor. No matter what state of matter it's in, all water is connected. It constantly moves through an endless cycle above, on, and through Earth. ("This is important because it sums up everything the previous sentences just said")

For example, when the sun beats down on the ocean, water evaporates. It rises into the sky as vapor. The vapor forms clouds. Later, the vapor condenses and falls as rain or snow. Next thing you know, you've got an indoor recess! The rain and snow soak into schoolyards, soccer fields, and lawns. Water seeps into creeks and rivers. Then it flows back into the ocean. ("All of this is unnecessary details. We're just looking for the main idea")

"Okay, so I'm going to create a summary, or a main idea, of the article using the information that I did highlight. Here is my sentence: Water is constantly moving through our Earth and covers 70% of the surface but we can't use most of that water. I summarized the whole passage with one sentence."

4. "Let's try doing a summary together. Let's summarize the second paragraph in the article. Remember, I'm highlighting the important information."

Quenching the Thirst

Water has been recycled like this for millions of years. The amount of water on our planet never changes. ("This is the most important sentence within these sentences and it sums everything up") There is the same amount now as there was when Earth formed. The water that drips from your faucet today could be the same water that dinosaurs drank long ago.

All living things need water to survive and that includes plants. In some plants, roots suck up water from the ground. In other plants, leaves and stems take in water. On a hot summer day a thirsty birch tree can sop up 300 liters (80 gallons) of water from the ground. That tree can then release almost the same amount into the air as water vapor. (We need to get rid of this because it's all details and we just want main ideas")

In dry places, plants must make every drop count. A desert cactus's leaves store water. Some plants become dormant, or "hibernate" during extremely dry times. When rain finally falls, they burst back to life in an explosion of color.

"Okay, so what should our summary sentence be? Let's be sure to look back on what we did highlight so we get the main ideas. Good job! Our summary sentence should be: Plants need water to survive and some plants recycle their water storage, just like the Earth recycles its water."

5. "Now you're going to read an article on your own and summarize each paragraph. This article is called Far-Out Foods and it's about eating bugs! Did you know that most people around the world eat bugs? They actually have nutrients in them! I know all of you will find this article very interesting."

6. "You should have 7 summary sentences when you're finished because that's how many paragraphs there are. I want you to write down your summary sentence and turn them in when you're finished. I'm going to use a checklist to see if you've gotten it. I'll be looking for 5 things: Delete unimportant information? Delete repeated information? Organize items with a big idea? Select a topic? Write an inclusive, simple topic sentence to summarize the passage? Please turn in your summaries when you're finished! Have fun reading about eating bugs!"

IV. Resources:

Geiger, Beth. Thirsty Planet.  http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/1010/articles/mainarticle.html

Nobles, Brittany. Super Summarizers.  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invitations/noblesrl.htm

Wedner, Diane. Far-Out Foods. http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/1011/articles/mainarticle.html

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