Let's Summarize!
Reading to Learn

By: Christen Walton

Rationale:  As children are starting to develop fluency they also need to begin comprehending what they are reading.  Summarization is a key way to help students remember what they are reading.  Throughout this lesson the students are going to receive basic instructions on summarization, which will help serve them greatly in remembering what they are reading.

Materials:  sheet for each student with the summarization rules (listed below), The Little Squeegy Bug (by Bill Martin, Jr, pub. by Winslow Press), Song and Dance Man (by Karen Ackerman pub. by Dragonfly Books), Best Friends (by Steven Kellogg pub. by Dial Books for Young Readers), Geraldine, the Music Mouse (by Leo Lonni pub. by Pantheon Books), The Bat Boy & the Violin (by Gavin Cutis pub. by Simon & Schuster) and The Great Car Race (by Cristina Espinoza & Carime Hagg pub. by Dominie Press, Inc), paper for each child, pencils for each child

1.  "Today we are going to work on summarizing what we read.  This will help remember key details from things that we read and we can tell our friends what we just read, and it will even help when you are trying to remember information while you are taking a test."

2.  "We have worked on silent reading before, and it is useful to remember that we can also summarize what we read silently.  We do not have to be reading out loud to summarize."

3.  "When we are going to summarize something that we are reading, there are six easy steps that will help you know what is important and what is not.  I am going to pass out a sheet for each of you that has the six steps on them.  I'll read them out loud now and you can follow along."
     "1.  Delete unimportant information.
       2. Delete repeated information
       3. Substitute easy terms for lists of items
       4. Add series of events with an easy action term
       5. Select a topic sentence
       6. Invent a topic sentence if there is none"

4.  "I am going to read the book, Tambourine Moon, out loud and then I am going to show you how I would start to summarize it."  Then I will read the book out loud.  "For example, on the first page the fact that the cars are as huge as giants and that really does not matter to the story, so we can delete that information.  On another page in the story describes the moon exactly as it was described the first time so we can delete that repeated information.  There really aren't any lists of terms so we do not have anything to do for number 3.  For number 4 we need to substitute series of events with an easy action term.  On page twelve the author describes a series of events that we can just summarize as walking by the church.  There isn't a topic sentence in this book but we can invent one ourselves.  The topic sentence could be:  Grandpa tells his granddaughter how the moon got in the sky."
5.  Next I will break the children into groups of four or five.  There will be four or five groups.  I will give each group a book to read and then summarize.  The books will be The Little Squeegy Bug, Song and Dance Man, The Bat Boy and His Violin, Best Friends, and Geraldine, the Music Mouse.  I will then have the groups share their summarizations of the book they were given.

6.  For the assessment I will give each child a copy of The Great Car Race to summarize on paper.

Reference:  Pressley, Michael, et al.  (1989).  "Strategies that Improve Children's Memory and   Comprehension of Text."  The Elementary Journal.  Volume 90, Number 1.    University of Chicago: Chicago, Illinois.  Pages 3-32.

Click here to return to Elucidations