Kelly Starr ­ Reading to Learn

Simple Steps of Summarization

Rationale:† Comprehension is one of the most important and essential aspects of reading.Summarization is a great strategy for children to learn comprehension.† This lesson will introduce students to summarization through steps as a class, and then individually.

Materials:† paper, pencil, copy of 'Muse' magazine for each child, chalk, chalkboard


  1. Begin by asking students, "Who can tell me what the word 'comprehension' means?† Right, comprehension is understanding what we are reading, and remembering it.† Today we are going to learn a little secret, or strategy to help us with comprehension.† This strategy is called summarization.† Many of you may have heard this word before.† When we summarize, we choose the most important concepts for the main idea of the passage we are reading.† At the same time, we eliminate less important details that do not help us understand the main idea."
  2. "Our strategy has five special steps we can remember."† (Write them on the board with chalk, so the children can follow along visually while we list them out loud.)† "Number one ­ pick out important details that are necessary to the story.† Number two ­ pick out the less important or repeated ideas from the passage, and eliminate them.† Number three ­ highlight the important and necessary details using keywords.† Number four ­ list keywords in order of how they appeared in the passage.† Number five ­ trim the passage and lists down to one sentence, a topic sentence."
  3. "Okay, now that we have our strategy ready, letís put it to work for comprehension.† Read the first paragraph of the article silently.† While you read, I want you to begin sorting out important details from the less important useless ones.† Okay, begin now."
  4. After the children have been reading silently, summarize the first passage together as a class, following the five steps.† "Now we are going to use our summarization strategy steps together.† Raise your hand to tell me the important points of the passage.† I will list them on the board as you call them out to me." (Model two points on the board to begin the list.† Then, list the facts as they call them out on one side of the board.)† Actual modeling:† 2 important facts:† 1. Astronauts are weightless in space.† 2.† Heavy objects lifted like feathers.† "Okay, now raise your hand to tell me the details that were less important, repeated or useless to our main idea." (Once again, model the first two of the list for the children, then record their list on the other side of the board.) Actual modeling:† Unimportant/repeated details:† 1.† Everything is fun.† 2.† Nothing is hard.† "Now, we will move to step #3.† Letís make up keywords from our important list."† (Model two, and use the list from the board.)† Actual modeling:† keywords:† weightless, heavy objects, feathers† 4.† Now, step #4, letís place our keywords in order."† (Use the chalkboard to do so.)† Actual modeling:† weightless, heavy objects, feathers "Finally, step #5 ­ I want you all to tell me a topic sentence we could write for the first passage.† (Take the examples, but it might be necessary to suggest one to them.† Encourage them by saying there is not just one right topic sentence, many could apply.)
  5. "Now that we have learned our strategy and used it together, I want you to summarize the rest of the article on your own.† Read the rest of the article silently.† Keep in mind the important ideas, and sort them from the less important ones, like we did in our lists."
  6. After the children have finished reading silently, I will assess them as they summarize individually.† "I want you to use our steps of summarization on your own.† Remember to list on your paper the important details on one side, the less important details or repeated details on the other.† Then, form keywords.† Then, list the keywords in order.† Finally, form your own topic sentence.† I will take these up, so show me your best work with our strategy."
  7. For assessment, I will take up the students' individual summaries afterwards, but I will walk around and watch me to make sure they are following along with the steps from the board.

References:† - Megan Lankford - Summarize What You Read!

Pressley, M., Johnson, C.J., Symons, S., McGoldrick, J.A., & Kurity, J.A. (1989).† Strategies that improve childrenís memory and comprehension of text.† The Elementary School Journal, 90, 3-32.

"Life Without Gravity."† Zimmerman, Robert.† Muse magazine.Volume 6, Number 4.† pp. 37-40.

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