Let's Sum It Up

 Holly Kubik

    To be able to read and recall information from an expository text, children need instruction in summarization.  By deleting trivial information, deleting redundant information, substituting super-ordinate terms for a list of items, and creating a topic sentence, students will be able to remember factual information better.

 Dare to Dream: Four True Life Stories About Imagination by Edgar, Kathleen; Edgar, Susan; and Rinaldo, Denise, Thompson Publishing copies of pages 13-17 (the chapter on Dr. Seuss)  copies of pages 7-11 (Amanda Dunbar chapter) with summary missing.

    Introduce the lesson by explaining that sometimes we do not need to always read a whole article.  Sometimes people summarize articles so we get the main idea without reading trivial information.
    "Students, sometimes we get articles to read that are really long and filled with information we do not need.  Today, we are going to find a way to delete all this information and sum up the main points."
To start out with, have the children read the Amanda Dunbar article with the missing summary.
    "Now that you’ve read the article, do you think there is any information we could have deleted?  There are three things that we need to do in order to summarize this article.  First of all, we need to delete all the information that we do not need.  Next, we will substitute the basic terms for a list of items.  Finally, we will come up with a topic sentence."
    "In the article, it says that Dr. Seuss’ father worked at the zoo.  Do you think that this is important or not?  Why is that?  Yes, I agree that it is important, because he liked writing about animals.  Do you think we need to include when he was born and where?  Yes, I agree because we need to learn the basic information.  What kind of topic sentence should we write?"

Continue to model which sentences we could delete.

Read the summary and ask the children which one they prefer.

Next, have the children divide into groups.  Each child reads the Dr. Seuss article.  As a group, they pick a topic sentence, etc. and come up with a summary.  Each group will have to come to an agreement on their summary.  Then, I will read my summary and they will make sure theirs includes important information.  I will also explain how summaries are not supposed to be the exact same.  The children will also be told before starting the practice that summarization is NOT copying; it’s putting it in your own words.  Remind them that silent reading is to you and NOT out loud.

    To assess the students, check the group summaries.  Also, listen in on the groups and check that they are hitting all three points of summarization.

    Pressley, Michael, et. Al. The Elementary School Journal, "Strategies that Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text."  Volume 90, Number 1.  1989; Chicago.

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