Summing it all Up…In Your Own Words

 Kim Willis

 Reading to Learn

Rationale: Teachers use student’s summaries of text to see whether they comprehend what they are learning in the text they are given.  Some children have trouble with this and as a result need instruction on how to go about doing so. The purpose of this lesson will be to show how teachers can teach children an important step in learning to review and condense the main ideas of the text.

Materials: Board, chalk, paper, pencil, Harcourt Science book, paragraphs pulled from children’s’ expository texts - articles that include several section headings from the following online magazines:  National Geographic, Time for Kids, or Scholastic News

1. The teacher will begin the lesson by explaining that summarizing is an important skill to master when reading.  It can aid you in your studying by helping you to review for tests and quizzes, but at the same time it helps the teacher find out what the students are learning.  The teacher knows you are learning if you comprehend what you are reading.  Today I am going to teach you one of the first steps to summarizing and that is picking the main topic.

 2. I will read this paragraph to you and then I will find the main topic of it.  The teacher will read the paragraph.  Now I will write down (on the board) what I think this paragraph is trying to tell me.  To brainstorm what the main topic is, I will write words or sentences on the board.  Then I will take what I have brainstormed and put it into a complete sentence.  I will make sure that it is in my own words because if I copy a sentence from the paragraph then that is not really summarizing.  Remember, summarizing has to be in your own words.

 3. Now I want you to try one.  As I read a paragraph I would like you to brainstorm on your paper what you think the main topic is.  When brainstorming you may write down words or sentences or even draw a picture if that helps.  Then I will give you about five minutes to use your notes to come up with one main topic sentence to summarize what this paragraph is saying.  Do not forget that it must be in your own words.

 4. Now let’s review how to read silently because usually we use the technique of summarization along with reading silently.  First we begin reading aloud, then move down to a whisper, then we read without making any noise, and last is not even moving our lips and just thinking the words to ourselves silently.  We are going to use the paragraph that we just read to practice this.  We will all begin reading at the same time and when I say so you will change from reading aloud, to whispering, then to just moving your lips, and then to thinking the words to yourself so that no one can hear you.  Ok, let’s begin.

 5. Now we are going to combine reading silently and summarizing into one activity.  I will give you another paragraph (each child should have a different paragraph for reading) and you will first read it silently, brainstorming on your paper as you read.  Then I want you to summarize the main topic by remembering what you read and by using your notes in front of you. You will have about twenty minutes to do this.

 6. Now I would like for every one of you to take out your science books.  We are going to use them to work on finding the main topic in each paragraph that we read.  Turn in your books to page B22.  You will read the first lesson about desert ecosystems that starts on page B22 and ends on page B25.  I want you to find the main topic of each paragraph that you read using this same technique that we have been using. When you are finished you will turn them in to me.

 7. Assessment will include their review questions from their science book as well as a journal entry about what they think the main topic of a paragraph is and the strategy they used to find it.  The teacher will read all work and journal entries making revisions and constructive comments on their work.  The students will then get their work returned back to them for feedback and more instruction.

Amy Strickland, In Your Own Words. 

Jones, Robert M., Krockover, Gerald H., Valenta, Carol.  Harcourt Science.  Harcourt, Inc.  Orlando, FL.  2002.  ppB22-B25.

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