"Sum It All Up!"

Reading to Learn Design

                                                                                                                                                                   Becky Roberts


Comprehension can be seen as the process of using one's background knowledge and experiences along with the writer's cues to construct meaning of the text. A good way for children to gain or strengthen their comprehension skills is for them to learn to summarize what they read. Summarization is important because it lets teacher's know if their students understand the main idea behind what they are reading. In the following lesson, children will learn how to use summarization skills and be able to apply them to their everyday reading skills.



class set of the article, "Flying Horses- The Amazing Lipizzaner of Austria", National Geographic Kids News, 27 October 2005 http://news.nationalgeographic.com/kids/2005/10/horses.html; 2 pieces of paper for each student; pencils, chalk; chalkboard; bookmark for each student with the 3 summarization rules:

     1. delete information that is not important or repeated

     2. highlight the important and necessary details by using key words or headings

     3. find a topic sentence that covers the main idea, and if there is not a topic sentence

         then make one;

 a blank semantic map:



1.Class, today we are going to talk about comprehension? Does anyone know what that means? I will wait for responses. Great! That is correct. Comprehension is when remember what we read and even remembering after we are done. I want our class to become wonderful at comprehending so we are going to learn a couple steps that make our reading easier to understand. One way to comprehend is by using a strategy called summarization. When we summarize, we are able to focus on the central parts of the story. To guide or summarization we are going to use the 3 steps and a story map.

2. Now I will explain summarization. Before I start I will pass out the bookmarks. I will have them read aloud the step after we go over it so that it is drilled into their minds. There are 3 steps that help us summarize our text so that we can remember what it says. These 3 steps are:

           1. delete information that is not important or repeated

           2. highlight the important and necessary details by using key words or


           3. find a topic sentence that covers the main idea, and if there is not a topic  

              sentence then make one

I will have already written these on the board so that I can refer to them as we read them. You have this bookmark to refer to if you need help to remember a rule so this is a great tool to look at.

3. Now I am going to hold up a copy of the article. Students I am about to pass out an article that we are going to practicing using summarization. This article is about a famous Austrian horse that kicks and leaps as he performs.  As you read these articles I want you to read them silently. How do we read silently? I will wait for their answers. That is correct when we read silently we are reading to ourselves. We don't bother our neighbor we just read to ourselves. This is what it look like to read silently. I will now model how to read silently. I will hold the article in front of me and allow my eyes to follow the words. I also might read by moving my mouth to read the words but not make any sound. Class this is how I want you to read also. I am giving you an article (pass out article) that I want you to read silently. I want everyone to read the first paragraph of this and when you are finished I want you to put our head on your desk so that I can know you are done. Remember as you read you are using your steps of summarization this is not a race you; are trying to comprehend the text.

4. As they are reading I will walk around the class. I now see that everyone has their head on their desks so we are now going to use a semantic map to summarize the important information. Can someone tell me what the main topic is? I will wait for an answer and as we talk about this I will be using the enlarged semantic map. That is correct the main topic is Lipizzaner horse so I am going to write in the circle in the middle. Can everyone see that? I will answer questions if there is any and write what they say. Now can anyone tell me some key words about the Lipizzaner horse? I want important information. I did not ask or everything the horse did throughout the article, I just want key information. I will wait for responses. Wonderful. These are key words about these horses so you are to write them branching off the circle. Can everyone see what I am doing? Now that we did the first part together I want you to read the whole article. When you are finished reading I want you to make a semantic map and then use it to write a summary about the article. Remember to delete unimportant information and information that is repeated. Refer to the board and your bookmark if you have questions. I will also be here to help if needed.  I will get them to start and I will walk around to make sure that everyone is on task.



Collect students' papers (with semantic maps and summarizations) and check to make sure children have grasped concept of summarization. Check for center circle for general idea or topic, and main points connected to the circle and also a brief summary in paragraph form. Use a checklist as a guide:

     1.included the main points   (Yes/No)

     2.deleted any small details   (Yes/No)

     3.combined repeated ideas  (Yes/No)




Autrey, Sarah. "Let's Get the Facts!"


"Flying Horses- The Amazing Lipizzaner of Austria", National Geographic Kids News, 27 October 2005 http://news.nationalgeographic.com/kids/2005/10/horses.html 

Foster, Ridey. "Sensational Summarization" http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/constr/fosterrl.html


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