Summing Our Way To The End
Reading to Learn

Melissa Hensley

Rationale:  It is very important for children to understand what they are reading.  Children gain a better understanding of what they have read when they learn to summarize.  During this lesson, students will learn to summarize and pick out important points in their reading.

A Class set of The Tiny Seed, by Eric Carle (Scholastic Inc.)
Checklist of the steps of summarization for each student.  These steps are:
1.)  Delete unimportant information
    2.)  Delete repeated information
    3.)  Substitute easy terms for lists of items
    4.)  Add a series of events with an easy action term
    5.)  Select a topic
    6.)  Invent a topic sentence if there is not one

5 sheets of butcher paper
chalk and chalkboard for teacher use

1.  “We have been working very hard on remembering what we read while we have been reading.  Everyone is doing a great job at this, so now we are going to work on a way of remembering the most important things we read.  This is called summarizing.  That means we take all of the important parts and put it all together again.  We will be getting rid of the parts that are not very important and don’t help us to understand the story in anyway.  We have also been working very hard on reading silently.  Remember how we don’t make any noise when we do this?  Right, we try to read without making any words come out of our mouth.  Here, let me show you how to do this, in case some people don’t remember.   I am going to read the first page of this book (The Tiny Seed) and when I do that, I am going to try my best to read it silently.”  Read the first page to yourself.  “Did you see how I didn’t say any words and my eyes followed along with the words in the book?  I want you to try to remember to do this when you read too!”
2.  I will give each student a copy of The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.  “Ok, I want to see all of you reading silently.  Let’s all read this whole book, and while you are reading I am going to walk around the room to see if everyone is able to do it silently.  You can use your finger to help your eyes follow the words if you need to.”
3.  “O.K.  Great!  Now that we have all read the book silently to ourselves, we are going to learn how to summarize it.  There are six steps that are very easy to follow and if you follow all of these steps, you will be able to summarize.”  I will write all of the steps on the board and read them to the students as I write them.
Step    1.)  Delete unimportant information
    2.)  Delete repeated information
    3.)  Substitute easy terms for lists of items
    4.)  Add a series of events with an easy action term
    5.)  Select a topic
    6.)  Invent a topic sentence if there is not one
4.  “Now, let’s try and use these steps to summarize the book we just read.  Sometimes, it is easiest to start with a web.  Do you remember doing one of these before?  That’s right, we have done a couple, but this time, we are going to do it while we summarize.  First, we put on big circle in the middle of the page.  In this circle, we write what the whole thing was about.  For this book, what do you think we could write?  The Tiny Seed, that is a very good topic.  This is usually what are topic sentence is going to be about.  We will use that when we write paragraphs.  After we write our topic circle, we are going to add some smaller circles around the outside of it.  We will write some of the main things that happened to the tiny seed in these circles.  What is an example of something that the seed did?  Right, it blew over the ocean.  Was it high or low over the ocean?  It was low.  Good!  So in one of our circles, we would write, it flew low over the ocean.  Now, you try to fill in some more circles on your own paper.  Start with a middle circle, and then add some smaller circles around the outside.  I will walk around the room and check to see if everyone is doing this write”
5.  After the students finish their story maps, I will ask them to get in groups and combine their story maps into one.  They will use a piece of butcher paper, and as a group will come up with one giant story map.  They will use each other’s ideas and try to incorporate all of the important facts.
6.  After each group has finished their story webs, the students will return to their seats.  “Each group should have one big story web.  I am going to put these story webs on the board in the front of the room.  We are going to try to write a paragraph about the story using our story maps.  Everyone should use the map that they did with their group to work on their paragraphs.  You can write a topic sentence about the tiny seed and then write some more sentences that support your topic sentence.  Those sentences are going to be the things you put in the smaller circles.  Remember that a paragraph has to use full sentences.  Everything you write should be a complete sentence.  I will give each of you a list of the 6 steps of summarization that you can use while you are working on your paragraphs.  If you get stuck, look at your list and make sure you are doing those steps.”
7.  I will walk around the room and observe the students while they are writing their paragraphs.  I will then ask the students to get in pairs and read their stories to each other.  As they read, their partner can check to make sure that complete sentences are being used and that their sentences are all about The Tiny Seed.

Assessment:  I will assess the students while I walk around the classroom.  I will also be collecting their paragraphs and I should be able to determine if they were able to summarize the book through reading their paragraphs.  I will use our steps for summarization and check off if each child uses the steps.  If they have done the steps, they will receive full credit.

References: (Kara Oglesby, Lesson for Teaching Summarization) (Lindsey York, Summing it All Up)

Click here to return to Guidelines