Explain to Me What's Important!


Andrea Shelton

Rationale: The goal of reading is to comprehend the text.  One great strategy that helps a student with comprehension is summarization.  Summarization is a strategy that has to be taught and explained in order to help children comprehend and remember what they just read.  Teaching children how to summarize includes instruction on how not to focus on the minor insignificant details.  A student needs to learn when you summarize you place items and events in order, and come up with a way to explain what the main and important message from the text is.  By providing children with instruction on how to construct summaries, they will be ready to apply the knowledge they have learned and be able to interpret the meaning of the texts they read.  

Pencil and paper for each student
Highlighters for each student
Dry erase boards and dry erase markers
Copy of the article,
Elephants Recognize Selves in Mirror, by John Roach (found on: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/10/061030-asian-elephants.html)  one copy for each student and one for the teacher.
Copy of the article,
Tiny Invaders, by Kristin Weir (found in the Nov-Dec 2006 issue of National Geographic pgs. 16-23 or on http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/0611/articles/mainarticle.html) one copy for each student and one for the teacher.
2 pieces of poster board (one blank for teacher to draw a web on and one with 5 summarization rules listed:  find the important elements in the text, element the details that are redundant and that are not important, use simple keywords to highlight important details, arrange the keywords in the same order as they appear in the text, turn keywords into a topic sentence)

1.  First, review silent reading with the class. "Today, we are going to review silent reading.  Does anyone remember what silent reading is?  Good Job. Silent reading is when we read to ourselves, but not out loud.  Can someone tell me why we read silently?  That is right.  We read silently to ourselves because it helps us to comprehend what we are reading.  There are other things to that we can do to help us understand what we are reading. One of these ways is by summarizing our text. Who can tell me what it means to
summarize? When we summarize something we will restate only the most important parts.  The version that you summarize will be a lot shorter than what is in the text because you leave out the unimportant parts.  Next, I will ask the students ''Why is summarization so important for reading?'' Explain that it helps us to understand that what when we read something we will not be able to remember the entire text, so if we can remember what the main ideas are then we will be able to retell and remember the text so much easier. "Today I'm going to teach you different tips to help summarize what has been read and then we will practice together summarizing together."

2.  I will explain that there are five steps to summarizing a text.  Explain the steps to the students and have them write the rules on a poster board for the entire class to see so they can go back and read them if they need the rules:  "When we summarize, we do it using five steps.  These five steps help us summarize more easily.  The steps are hanging up on the board for every one to see if they need them.  First, pick out the important details.  Second, pick out the details that are repeated or are not important and get rid of them.  Third, use easy keywords to highlight important details.  Fourth, list those keywords in order as they appeared in the passage.  Fifth, use the keywords to make one topic sentence."

3. "We are going to test our summarization skills we just learned and worked so hard on!"  Pass out to each student the article Elephants Recognize Selves in Mirror.  Give a book talk: 'This article is about how elephants can see themselves in a mirror.  I wonder what happens when they do see themselves.  We will have to read to find out.' Tell the students to read the article silently to themselves.  Give each student enough time to finish the article.  "Now that everyone is finished reading I am going to model for you how to summarize a paragraph using our five steps.  I am going to read a summary of the article. I need everyone to pay very close attention to the important details."

4.    Next, say to the students, "I am going to show you how to summarize a paragraph using our five steps we discussed.  Pay attention and listen for the important facts as I read. Now I am going to begin to read the first paragraph aloud." After summarizing the paragraph, remind the students of the steps you used to create the summary. Remind the students about deleting trivial information by saying, "did you notice how I only wrote the important information and left out the unimportant stuff?  Next I will write down the keywords in order on the board.  Then I will take some of the keywords and make a topic sentence.  "Then, I will read the topic sentence aloud.

5.  "Next, I need everyone to take out their highlighters."  I will tell the students to re-read the rest of the article silently and to use their highlighters to highlight what is the most important parts of the article are.  Give the students enough time to finish and to really think about what the important parts are.

6.  "Let‰¥ús discuss what you read in the article.  I am going to draw a picture on the chart paper or a web.  The web helps us organize the information from the article and to understand what we have learned.  Remember, to look at the summary checklist on our other chart.  Does anybody know where the main topic on our web goes?  I will put it in the middle because it is the focus of what we will talk about and everything else goes around it.  Who can tell me one of the main points from the article?"  Give students a chance to answer and come up to the chart paper and write their answers on the web.  Explain to the children that we should be able to create a paragraph that summarizes the entire article and that we can use the web to help create that summary by using the facts that we recorded.

7.  I am going to hand out the paper to the students to make their own individual webs so they can practice what they have learned.  I will also have them work in groups of four so that they can discuss what they read and can come up with a summary that everyone can agree on.  "I want everyone to get with their groups that I have already assigned you with.  Now I want you to practice making your own web which will help you summarize.  Who can tell me how to begin the web?  We place the topic of the article in the center of the of the web.  Then we write the facts or pieces of information out to the sides and draw a line to it from the main topic.  Now I want each group to discuss the article and summarize it together.  Look at what each of you have highlighted and discuss why you highlighted that part of the text and that with your group.  Remember to look at the checklist to make sure you have used all five of the steps for summarizing."

8.  Now I need everyone to take out their own sheets of paper and a pencil.  Give each student a copy of the article, Tiny Invaders.  Give a quick book talk: 'This article is about all the little tiny things that we come into contact with.  There are bugs and germs and much more.  I wonder what the bugs or germs could do to our body?  You will have to read the article to find out.  "Read the article and summarize it by ourselves by using our five steps."  When everyone is done please turn in your summaries." 

9.   Assessment:  In order to assess the student's understanding of summarization, I will observe the students as they work on their individual webs.  I will compare their checklists to their webs and will have each of them write a brief summary paragraph based on their web from the article.  I will gather their individual summaries and will make sure they do away with the unimportant and repeated information.  I will read each summarization to see if the child can summarize like we have discussed.


Horton, Shelley.  1, 2, 3...Summing It Up!  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invent/hortonrl.html

Murray, Bruce.  The Reading Geniehttp://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie

Clabby, Caitlin Tell Me All About It!



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