Reading to Learn

Slim and Trim∑Sum it Up!

Becky Short



Rationale: Comprehension is a most valuable resource to children‚s reading.  A certain strategy to promote comprehension after reading (especially expository texts) is to summarize.  Summarization, reading and recalling certain information, requires instruction.  Summarization can be taught by implementing these 6 methods into children‚s reading. First, delete trivial information.  Second, delete redundant information. Third, substitute subordinate terms for lists of items.  Fourth, integrate a series of events with a subordinate action term.  Fifth, select a topic sentence.  Finally, invent a topic sentence if there is none.  Following these six steps after reading a passage will help a child remember factual information better.







Copies of Thunder and Lightning by Wendy Pfeffer

Copies of Really Wild Animals: Sea Babies by Sandra Markle

Summarization checklist for each student



1.)  Model and review reading silently with the students and introduce the day‚s text.  Say: Remember how to read silently.  Follow the words with your eyes and say the words silently in your head.  I will read the first sentences that way.  Could anyone hear me?  Good∑I hope you couldn‚t.  I don‚t think I even moved my lips!  Today each one of you is going to read the book Thunder and Lightning by Wendy Pfeffer to yourself silently. 


2.) Give a brief book talk.  Say:  Have you ever wondered how thunder and lightning happens?  Today you will silently read a book to yourself that tells you about storms, and why thunder booms when it storms, and why lightning flashes.  When you are finished reading the book, close it and turn it over so that I know you are finished.


3.) When all the students are finished, Say:  Thank you for reading silently.  I didn‚t hear anyone∑that was great!  Now let‚s think about the story.  Who can tell me what a summary is?  (Take ideas and lead toward this answer∑)  A summary is picking out the main points in a story.  When you are summarizing∑keep these six steps in mind.

Teacher writes these on the board:

1. Delete unimportant information.

2. Delete repeated information.

3. Substitute easy terms for lists of items

4. Substitute a series of events with one easy action term.

5. Select a topic.

6. Invent a topic if there is none.

4.) Say: One way to help begin summarizing is by webbing.  When we make a web, we put the topic in a circle in the middle.  Then we draw lines from the circle and add supporting details on the lines. 

Model how to web by drawing this one on the blackboard. Say:  The middle circle would say what? (thunder and lightning)  Some important facts about thunder and lightning would be written where? (on the lines drawn from the circle)  What are some of those facts? (air turns water into gas, water vapor forms clouds, clouds fill with small drops of water, drops bump into one another causing lightning, when lightning flashes it heats the air, the hot air pushes out and back which makes a sound we call thunder, you see lightning before you hear thunder∑.etc.)  Let the students finish their web.  Hopefully they will include some of these ideas and some others from the text.


5.) Explain that these details can be written in complete sentences to form a summary.  For example, the detail that air turns water into gas can be written as: The formation of thunder and lightning is a process and the first step in that process is air turning water into gas.


6.) Give the students the book Really Wild Animals: Sea Babies by Sandra Markle to read silently.  Ask them to make a summary web of the book and then form a summarization paragraph of those details. 


7.) Hand each child a checklist with these items (they will check a partner‚s summary paragraph):

1. Deleted unimportant information: yes or no

2. Deleted repeated information: yes or no

3. Substituted easy terms for lists of items: yes or no

4. Substituted a series of events with an easy action term: yes or no

5. Selected a topic: yes or no

6. Invented a topic sentence if there is none: yes or no




Slim down to the Good Stuff by Summarizing Ų Anna Ludlum


 Pfeffer, Wendy. Thunder and Lightning. New York: Scholastic Inc. 2002.


Markle, Sandra. Really Wild Animals: Sea Babies. New York: Scholastic Inc. 2002.


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