Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

By: Kym Brazeau

Reading to Learn






  1. I will approach the students about summarization. “What does it mean to summarize a story? Summarizing a story means to read a passage and then retell the story by using main points so that it is shorter. In order to so this we must be able to pick out what is important to the plot of the story. This helps us understand what happened in the story in a quick and organized way. I will model for you by reading a passage and summarizing it. (I wanted a puppy for Christmas. I ask my mom for a puppy everyday. I knew Christmas was going to be here soon so I even asked her three times a day so that she would not forget. When we walked past the pet store I would point out the puppy I wanted so that my mom wouldn’t pick the wrong one. I even wrote Santa Clause and asked him for a puppy just in case my mom forgot. If she didn’t forget, I would get two puppies. When Christmas Day came I ran down stairs to see all the presents piled under the tree. I looked for the box that would be moving and making noises, but I couldn’t find one. After we opened all our presents, I still was not as happy as I should have been. I asked my mom if she forgot about the puppy I wanted. As I was waiting for her answer, my dad walked through the door with the puppy I wanted? He didn’t forget about my puppy!) Summarization: I asked my mom and Santa Clause everyday for a puppy for Christmas and when Christmas Day came, my dad was the one who remembered to get my puppy. “The way I got this was by going through each sentence and finding information that is needed to know what is happening in the story that will help me understand the book. To find out what is important you should ask yourself these questions: Who is in the story? Where are the characters? What did the characters do? Will the meaning of the story change if you were to take out what the characters did? Can it be left out and still make sense? Use these questions to help you find out what is important. Not everyone will have the same answer.
  2. The students will be put into groups of three. Each group will get a copy of the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. They will be assigned a certain number of pages to read. “A good way to summarize is to write notes of what is important. (I will read the first page of the book and write on a post-it what is important on that page to show how to do it.) If you don’t think there is anything is important don’t write anything. You can keep the post-it on the page you read it so that you can go back to see if what you wrote is really important. I will model how to use the post-its. (I will read the first two pages of the story out loud and as I’m reading, I will stop and say what I’m doing) Page one: “Every Who down in Who-Ville liked Christmas a lot” I will take my post-it and ask myself the questions stated above and write the answers down. If I don’t have an answer, I won’t write anything down. I will explain this out loud to the students. I write on the post-it “Who”, “Who-Ville”, and “they like Christmas a lot”. I will explain why I chose to write the words that were in the story. “I must know who is in the story, where the story is taking place, and what the characters are doing or what they like.” I will repeat this process for the second page.
  3. The children will take turns reading pages in their groups and write their post-it notes. After reading their assigned pages, students should discuss with each other what they read and decide if the notes say what is really important.
  4. The groups will then rewrite their notes in short summarized sentences and write them on sentence strips.
  5. The class will come together and put their sentence strips in order on the board. The class will decide if they are in order and if they think this is a good summarization of the story. I will ask, “Do you think that this summarization can be melted down any more? If so, what can you say?”


            I will assess students while they are in their groups. As they are writing on their post-its, I will ask them why they chose those ideas and why they think they are important.


Eldredge, J. Lloyd. Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. 1995. Prentice Hall.

Darby Wallingsford. “Reading to Learn: Summarization Made Easy”

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