Reading To Learn Lesson

                                               Finding the Good Stuff In What We Read

                                                                                               boy searching book

                                                                                               Courtney Hamby

Rational: Comprehension is very important in learning to read. If students cannot comprehend what they are reading, then they will not understand the message. When good readers read they use summarizations to help them comprehend the text they read. When summarizing a reading selection it is important to first delete any information that is not needed. Students need to learn how to tell the important information from the trivial information. Modeling this procedure and allowing students to practice will help then learn how to delete the trivial information. After deleting all trivial information students can use the important information, to answer questions about the text. Students will learn to ask questions about what is going on or being discussed in the text. This lesson gives students practice at building their comprehension strategies, by teaching then to delete unneeded information and locate the important information needed to comprehend the material.


Multiple copies of Incredible Caterpillars. Ranger Rick, July 1992, p.24-30; 
·     Graph Sheets for finding the important information.
·     Pencils
·     Board to write on
·     Poster of Summarization Rules covered in the lesson (optional)
·     Expository Texts for assessment (Use Science or Social Studies)

I. Procedures: Introducing the lesson

A.)   Introduce the lesson my telling the students why it is important to comprehend what we read.  Today we are going to be working on our comprehension strategies. When we read it is important to now what we are reading. We need to know how to find the important information in what we read. When we pull out only the important information from the text, we say that we are meeting the first step in summarizing the information.

    B.)        Tell them that one of the quickest ways to comprehend what you are reading is by getting rid of all the extra information. We don’t need some of the information. Good readers know when to pay close attention and when not to. "There is a way to put all of the important information together and leave the unnecessary stuff out, so we can better understand what we are reading.  It is called summarization and we will learn how to use it today." 

II. Model the process

A.)            Have the students individually read the first three pages of the text.  "To begin, I want you to read the first paragraph, silently to yourself. Remember that when we read silently it is to ourselves, and others should not hear us.

B.)            Then have the students tell some of the things they learn about what this article is going to be about. Then ask then to point out how they found this out. “What do you think this article is going to be about? What are some of the clues that told you this? When we read we want to look for the important information and delete any unimportant information.

C.)            Then have the students find things in the text that did not help them know what the article was going to be about. Write these things on the board. Make a graph comparing the important information to the not so important information. (A model graph can be found at the end of this lesson.)

III. Explain the Summarization Rules

A.)        Tell the students that there are three main rules for summarizing a reading.  These rules can be put on a poster for students to refer back to when reading. "There are three important rules to remember when summarizing a passage:

1.      Get rid of unnecessary and repetitive information.

2.      Organize and put items and events in order by their importance to the selection. Find answers to the important questions of What is it about?, Why is it important?, Who did it?, and When, were and how did or does it occur?.

3.      Find the main idea. This maybe a sentence in the text or you can rewrite your own that covers everything the writer is saying about the topic.

B.)      Write the rules for Summarization on the board or create a poster to hang up in the classroom to remind students of these three important strategies.

C.)     Refer to the rules of summarization as you model the process of finding important information in the text. Read a paragraph or two of the text to the class and have them tell you what is so important in that passage. “What make these caterpillars so incredible?” List their reasons on the board referring back to the text as needed.

IV. Practicing the Rules

A.)                                   Have the students read the rest of the article. As they read remind them to look for what is important and what is not so important in the text. “Now I want you to read the rest of the article on your own. Remember as you read to locate what is important to the text. You can find this by first deciding what is not important. Remember to ask yourself, Who or what is it about?, Where is it taking place and when?, and What is going on?. The answers to these questions are the important information. We want to pay close attention to the important information as we read.

B.)                                    Give the students the graph sheets to records the things they find to be important and unimportant. Have them write the unimportant information in the first column and the important information in the second column. “On this sheet I want to write down the information you find. Write the unimportant information in the first column and then the important information in the second column.

C.)                                    When students finish reading and recording the information that they found, have them split into groups of three are four and compare their findings. Working with their peers students who are still struggling maybe able to see things in the text that they did not see before. Tell the students that they need to be able to tell why they chose the information they did. They need to defend the important ideas that they recorded on their sheet.

D.)                                    After allowing the students to work together in groups to compare what they learned from reading, bring them back to one big group. Have a class discussion about what was important in the passage that the students just read. Allow the group to send one of their members up to present their ideas about the text.

V. Assessment

A.)           Have the students read an expository text from their science or social studies book. Remind then to use the new summarization rules as they read. “Now I want you to read the next section of you science textbook silently to yourself. As you read remember to use the summarizations rules to comprehend what is going on.

B.)           After the students have read the chosen section have them write a paragraph summarizing the main ideas of the chapter. Their paragraphs should include the main ideas of the assigned reading, what is it about, all important facts, where it is taking place, and when it is happening.

C.)        Have the children write a rough draft of their paragraph first, then revise it, and write a final copy. This process can be done with any expository text to help students remember more about what they have just read. They can draw pictures to go along with their summarizations, as well. These can be used to assess their comprehension of the text and also give them a good opportunity to practice their grammar.


                       Pressley, M., Johnson, C.J., Symons, S., McGoldrick, J.A., & Kurity, J.A. (1989).

                       Strategies that improve children's memory and comprehension of textThe Elementary School Journal, 90, 3-32.

                       Autmn B. Sims. “What’s The Main Idea.” The Reading Genie.

                      Cindy Crenshaw. “Comprehension! The Key That Opens Our Minds.” The Reading Genie.

                       Elizabeth DeHaye. “Putting out the Trash.”  The Reading Genie.

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