Be Wise and SUMMARIZE!!!

Reading to Learn
By: Christina Barnes

As students work on becoming skilled readers, they must learn how to comprehend.  A strategy to help in improving comprehension is summarizing.  Students must have instruction on how to successfully summarize a text so that they will be able to read and understand what they are reading.  They need to learn how to identify what is important and not important in a paragraph and then how to delete the unimportant information as well as the repeated information.  Also, if students can shorten the amount of information given, they will better be able to remember what they have read once they are finished.  Students can add a series of events with an action term as well.  Identifying the topic and creating a topic sentence if there is not already one can greatly aid in organizing thoughts as the reader continues to read. 

-Copies of "SuperCroc" from National Geographic Kids (National Geographic Explorer  ( for each student
-Bookmark for each student with the summarizing checklist on it:
        1.     Delete unimportant information
        2.     Delete repeated information
        3.     Substitute easy words for lists of items
        4.     Add a series of events with an easy action term
        5.     Select a topic
        6.     Invent a topic sentence if there is already not one.

1.  In order to begin the lesson, I will start a discussion on summarizing in order to find out what students may already know about summarizing.  To make sure that everyone understands, I will say, "Summarizing is when we pick out the main ideas from a paragraph so that we have a shorter amount of information to understand and remember."  Today we are going to work on becoming excellent summarizers so that when we read a text, we will be able to better comprehend it.
To summarize as you read on your own, you need to ask yourself questions as you read.  As a class, we are going to practice summarizing and to start out, I am going to ask questions out loud that I might ask myself if I was reading silently.  The article that we are going to read today is about a crocodile that is referred to as "SuperCroc".  Can anyone tell me a prediction or what you think this article might be about?  (I will then allow the students to give some answers and then close up the discussion.)  Just from the information I have given you about the article, it could be about a crocodile that can do a neat trick, that saved someone, or maybe even just a really big crocodile.  Now we are going to read a part of the article together and then go back and work on our summarizing skills.  I'm going to read the story out loud and I want all of you to make sure that you are paying attention and following along as I read.  Also, notice how I am reading fluently and with expression like we have talked about before so that I will better understand what I am reading.
(Excerpt from article):  "What makes this croc so super? In a word, size. The skull alone was six feet long! Sereno says it's "about the biggest I've ever seen." Naturally, Sereno wondered how big SuperCroc was overall. There isn't a live SuperCroc around to measure, and the team found only part of its skeleton. So Sereno had to make an estimate, or smart guess. To do that, he looked at crocodiles that live today. He and other experts compared the animals' skull and body sizes. Based on his research, Sereno concluded that an adult SuperCroc could grow to be 40 feet long! That's roughly the length of a school bus." 
Now, that we have read part of the article, we need to pick out the important parts that we read in order to come up with a topic sentence and summary.  I will then allow students to respond with important facts-  super cause of it's size, skull was 6 feet long, could be about 40 feet long, etc.  Now we need to create a topic sentence from what we read and from the main ideas that we picked out together- SuperCroc gets it's name because of it's size as it could be up to 40 feet long.  Our topic sentence was created by adding together all of the main ideas that we found from the text.  Since we have done some practicing together, I want you to now read the rest of the article silently to yourself and once everyone is finished reading, we will work together on summarizing the rest of the article.  Remember that if you don't understand a sentence, you can use our cross-checking tool and go back and reread the sentence.

3.  Now that you have read the entire article, I am going to give you a
bookmark with the steps to summarizing on it in order to help you summarize what you have just read.  (Hand out bookmarks)  As I read the steps aloud, you read them silently.
Delete unimportant information
Delete repeated information
Substitute easy words for lists of items
Add a series of events with an easy action term
Select a topic
Invent a topic sentence if there is already not one
It's important to delete the unimportant information from an article or story because a lot of the time it can be distracting to us and make us forget the main point of what we are reading about.  Getting rid of the repeated information, or information that we already now is helpful too because it helps us to determine the main topic of the text.  If we substitute easy words for a list of items, it makes it less information that we have to remember.  For example, if I said skittles, kit-kat, m&m's, and jolly ranchers, what is one word that describes all of those?  Yes, we could just think candy for all of those instead of trying to remember each individual one.  We can also add a series of events with an action term to help us remember the passage as well.  Then we can select a topic for our text and create a topic sentence that describes what we have read. 
4.  Let's talk about what we read in the article.  In order to do this, I'm going to
show you an easy way to help you understand summarizing and what you have read.  (Draw a web on the board) What I have drawn on the board is called a web.  A web can help us to organize the information that we read in an article or story so that we can more easily understand it.  In this center circle, we put what the entire article is about.  Who can tell me one word that describes what this article is about?  (SuperCroc) Great! So I will write SuperCroc in the center circle.  Now, who can tell me one thing that they read in the article that was about SuperCroc?  As students name facts, I will write a few of them on the web and explain to the students that as they recall information from a passage, they can add them around the center of the web.  If we were to finish our web, we would have a pretty simple summary of the article that we read.  For each part of the web, we could create one sentence and then put all the sentences together to create a short paragraph that summarizes the much longer article. 
5.  Now I want you to find a partner and together, you are going to use the
article and your bookmark and create a web on your own.  I want you to actually finish making your web and as you work on it, I should see you doing things like, crossing out information in the article that wasn't important.  Once you and your partner have finished your web, I want you to write a short paragraph using your web that will be a summary for the article on SuperCroc. 
6.  For assessment, I will walk around and make sure that the students
understand how to find the unimportant information in the article and cross it out.  I will also check to see if they are putting the most important ideas on the web and that they are correctly creating their web.  I will then look at their paragraphs that they write to see if they did pick out the main ideas of the article and made a good summary.  Also, I will be asking questions about the article in order to make sure that the students are comprehending what they are reading such as:  Why is this crocodile called SuperCroc?  How did they make a good guess on how big the crocodile is? 

National Geographic Explorer-

Sensational Summarizers, by Valerie Lunceford-

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