Reading to Learn

Sum It Up Silly!!

Staci Sealy

Rationale: After becoming a fluent reader, and moving on to more lengthy reading material, it is important to develop summarization skills. In learning how to summarize, children will learn how to pick out important facts which will help them understand the text more clearly and deeply when recalling the story or article leading to better comprehension.

Fish Face by Patricia Reilly Giff
Next Stop,
New York City! By Patricia Reilly Giff
A Highlighter  
Dry Erase Board
Dry Erase Markers


   1. Before beginning a new lesson today, lets get out our book Next Stop,
New York City! Let’s review reading silently.  I want you to open your book to the first page and read it to yourself in a whisper.  Let’s try it again with less sound.  Then I want you to go from a whisper to just moving your lips until no sound comes out."
   2. The teacher will discuss the term summarization – the importance of picking important information out of the text. "If you are able to summarize what you read then you understand what is happening.  By summarizing, you are forgetting the details and focusing on the main parts, the most important information of the text. Today we are going to learn how to summarize from the popular book, Fish Face by Patricia Reilly Giff.”
   3. Introduce book to students by giving a book talk. ."The Book has a really funny title.  What do you think it is going to be about?  It is about a girl who looses her lucky unicorn and thinks that the new girl Dawn stole it from her.  Dawn says that Emily has a Fish Face.  Did Dawn really take Emily’s lucky unicorn?
   4. Have children read the first chapter silently.  When done reading, write on the board the three things to help you summarize:
        1. No useless information.
        2. No redundant facts.
        3. Form a topic sentence from important information.
   5.  Have a question and answer time by asking specific short answer comprehension questions such as: Who is the main character? What happened to Uni?  Who is the new girl?  Who is Emily’s best friend?   Where does the story take place?
   6. Teacher will read aloud the first page of Chapter one. Text is as follows:

“Give me a push, Beast,” Emily called to her best friend Richard Best.  
“I think the bell rang,” he said.
She looked over her shoulder.  “Just one more little push?”
Beast grabbed the edge of the swing.
He gave her a great push.
Emily sailed up high.  She let her head fall back so she could see the sky.
“Everyone’s in line,” Jill Simon called from the monkey bars.
Emily slid off the swing and landed in a wet patch.
“Yucks,” she said.  She watched the mud ooze up around her red sneakers.
“We’re going to be late,” Jill told Emily.
Emily scraped her sneakers against the swing pole.  “I’m coming.”
   7.  After reading, go back through the paragraph and point out the important parts. Have children highlight them.  "Look at the first sentence. Is it important that we remember the main characters best friend – Richard Best or Beast? Highlight Beast, because his name is something important we need to remember." Continue through the paragraph, discussing sentence by sentence what is important. Weed through the trivial details.

  7. Have someone read first paragraph of chapter two.  Make two columns on the board- IMPORTANT and NON-IMPORTANT.  Call on students to go through paragraph and list out the important things and trivial details as a class.  "By looking at the IMPORTANT column, who can form one topic sentence to summarize the first paragraph? I want each of you to write a topic sentence on your paper."  Have students share topic sentences.

8.   Have children read the rest of Chapter two silently.  Have children write on paper a summary of chapter that they have just read.

  9. Assessment: Collect children’s papers and read over summaries to make sure children have grasped concept of summarization. Check for topic sentences and important information.  Take off one point for each trivial detail listed.


Giff, Patricia Reilly.  Fish Face.  
New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.  1984.

Giff, Patricia Reilly.  Next Stop,
New York.  New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.     1982.

Pressley, Michael. Strategies That Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of Text.  The Elementary School Journal. Volume 90, no.1. 1989.

“Summing it all up in a Nutshell”
Misti Willoughby

Click to return to Explorations.