Jenn Kanute
Reading to Learn
Keep it short!

Rationale:  This lesson can be used to teach students how to summarize the text that they are reading.  By learning how to summarize text, students learn how to find the meaning of what they have read.

Materials:  Any non-fiction book (History book etc.  Non-fiction books are good because they offer a lot of factual information that the students can use), Xeroxed copies of the text (one for each child), highlighters, markers, paper and pencils.

Procedure: (1) Start the lesson by explaining to the students what it means to summarize text.  “When you summarize, you make the story into a shorter version without changing any of the important information or changing the meaning of the story.  For example, if I read the passage: I walked to the store.  My mom wanted me to buy some apples.  They were on sale for ten cents each; I could summarize these sentences by saying I walked to the store to buy apples for 10 cents each.  See how I used the important information to make a shorter sentence?  That is what we are going to be doing today.”

(2) Have students get out their history books and silently read the assigned passage (whatever lesson you are on at the time).  “I want you to now read page 30-38.  This is a story about Betty Ross.  I want you read silently to yourself.  After you have finished the passage, be thinking about the main points of the story.”

(3) After the students have all finished reading, pass out the Xeroxed copies of the same passage that they just read.  “Now we are going to summarize what we just read.  We are going to find all the main points of the story and take out all the information that we don’t need so that we will have a shorter version of the story.  I want you to take the copy of the passage that I just gave you and start highlighting all the important information that you see.”  Have the students go through the whole passage and highlight the main ideas and important information.  Discuss each of these facts with the students after they have finished highlighting.  “What main ideas or points did you highlight?”  Next have students mark through the unimportant information with a marker.  “Now I want you to go back and mark through all the other information that was not as important with the marker I gave you.  This is the information that the author put in but we don’t necessarily need for our summary.”

(4) Once the students have highlighted all the important facts in the story and marked through the unimportant facts, have the students write what is left on a blank sheet of paper.  “Now I want you to write the facts that you have highlighted on the blank sheet of paper you have.  Make sure to leave out all the sentences that you marked through with your marker.”
(5) Finally, have some students read their summaries for the class. “Listen to these students as they read their summaries to find out if they marked out the same information that you did.”  All the of students’ summaries should sound similar.

Assessment: For assessment, pass out another passage to each child and have them read it silently and then summarize it on their on.  You can look over each summary to see if the students have caught on about summarizing text.

References: Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  Prentice Hall, Inc.   Columbus, Ohio.  1995.  p. 10-11
Pressley, Michael.  “Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.”  The Elementary School Journal Volume 90, Number 1.
“The Reading Genie website.”
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