By Tara Greene
Reading to Learn

Rationale:  In order for a student to comprehend what he or she is reading, they have to understand how to comprehend, and why it is so important.  For students to summarize well, they must have a teacher to teach them strategies, as well as model them.

Materials:  Paper, pencil, Addison-Wesley Science textbook (or whatever science book is currently being used), current newspaper article for each student.

Procedure:                                                                                                                                                                                1.  To begin the lesson, I would first review reading smoothly.  Before students can comprehend the text and summarize it, they have to have practice is reading smoothly both aloud and silently.  "Today we are going learn about some very important strategies that will help you throughout your life.  Before we talk about how to summarize, I want to review with you how to read smoothly.  Everybody, read the passage I had on the board, silently to yourselves".  Have a short passage on the board and encourage them to make their words connect, and to read with expression.

2.  "Now that we have reviewed smooth reading, I want to teach you how to summarize."  Ask the students to open their science book and read the introduction to the chapter.  The introduction will probably be a paragraph that covers a great deal of information.  "After you read this paragraph thoroughly, answer the questions I have written for you on the board."  Have a list of a few very detailed questions for your students to answer.  Your students will probably not be able to answer the questions without referring back to the text.  This will help them understand what they have just read.  On their own piece of paper, ask them to write down the main ideas of the passage.  "Since you all know about this passage, I want you to throw out the information that is least important and only write sentences that describe the general ideas." After each child is finished, discuss their work and clear up any confusion that your students may be having.  To help them understand the concept of summarizing even better, write how you would summarize the passage on the board, so that they have a more clear understanding.

3.   Next you should break the class up into groups of about three or four students.  Give each group a different section of the chapter, make sure it is rather short in length, to read and summarize.  After each group is finished summarizing their section, ask them to individually come to the front of the room.  Walk around the class to make sure each group is on the right track, and that each group member is participating in the activity.  If you see some students that are having some difficulty, just remind them that all they are doing is taking the important information and combing it.  The actual group work will take a while, depending on how long the given sections are.

4.  The next part of the lesson is for each group to present their summaries to the entire class.  "Now, I want each group, one by one, to come to the front of the class, and read your summary aloud.  After you do that, I want one group member to read the actual passage that you had to summarize.  After both the summary and the passage are read, the class will nod their heads "yes" if they feel that you informed then of all the main ideas, and they will raise their hands if they feel that the summary wasn't informative enough."  By raising their hands, they will be able to give only constructive criticism.  This group activity will give them confidence in summarizing, and also prepare them for their assessment.  After each group presents, discuss each groups strong points and what areas they may be weak in.  Make sure that by the time this activity is completed, all questions are already answered about how to summarize.

5. For assessment, give each student an article from a current newspaper.  Give instructions to the entire class.  "What I want you to do now is to read your article and make sure you really understand the information.  Next, on a clean piece of paper, I want you to write a summary of your article.  Your grade will depend on how well you use your knowledge of summarizing and convey the information."  Read each summary and give each student a grade on how well they summarized the article.  You can also have students exchange their summaries and give constructive criticism.


Barman, Charles.  Addison-Wesley Science.  New York, 1989.

Lesson by Stacey Stanfield, "Summarizing Strategies.

Jones, Raymond.  Reading Quest website

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