Reading to Learn
April Casey

Five Step Summary

Rational:  Summarization is one of the most important and essential aspects of reading comprehension. By finding key points and main idea words, students gradually become more skillful readers. In this lesson students will learn the steps of summarizing and then they will practice summarizing a selection of text.

Materials:  pencil, paper, chalkboard, class copies of "Whooo-o Are You?" article from National Geographic Kids, Five Step Summary bookmarks for each child (laminated book marks with the five summary steps listed on them)

Procedures: 1. Begin the lesson by asking students "Who can tell me what it means to 'summarize'?"  Right, when we summarize something we retell it, stressing only the most important parts in order to emphasize the main idea. The less important, minor details are left out.  Ask, Why is summarization important for reading? Exactly, summarizing helps us to better understand what we have read. Today I'm going to teach a few basic steps that will help you summarize your readings, and then we will practice summarizing text together.

2.  There are five simple steps to summarization. (Write steps on the board while explaining them out loud)
 Number 1: Pick out important details that are necessary to the story.
 Number 2: Pick out the less important or repeated ideas from the story and eliminate them.
 Number 3: Highlight the important details using keywords.
 Number 4: List key words in the order they appeared in the passage.
 Number 5: Trim the list of key words down to one topic sentence.
Okay, now that we have our steps here in front of us, let's practice using them.

3. Pass out the "Whooo-o Are You?" article, making sure that each student has a copy. Explain, This is an article about 8 different owls found around the world. For now, let's choose one to read about. How about Owl number 2 ö the African Spotted Eagle ö Owl ? Take a moment and read it silently to yourself.

4. After everyone has had time to read, summarize the passage as a class using the five steps. Now let's use the five steps to summarize what we have just read about the African Spotted Eagle öOwl. For step one, raise your hand to tell me the important parts of the story. (Write the facts on one side of the board as students call them out) a. They hunt at night b. Feathers help them blend in with twigs and bark c. They have special eyes depth perception and hunting at night.  Great job! Those are all important facts found in the passage. Now lets move on to step two. Again, raise your hand and I'll call on you to tell me some less important ideas that we need to eliminate.  (Write these ideas on the other side of the board) a. They have big eyes that are ten times more sensitive to light than human eyes. b. Sometimes they have to hide from other birds.  For step 3 we will use our list of important facts to make up keywords: night, feathers, eyes. Good! You all are really catching on! Finally let's use these words to help us think of a topic sentence that will put all of these ideas together. Raise your hand if you come up with a sentence. (Take suggestions from students and explain that there is no one topic sentence but many possibilities. Be ready to model a topic sentence in case they do not have ideas. Example: The African Spotted Eagle-Owl has special features to help it hunt at night.

5. Now that we've all had a chance to practice our summarization steps together, I'd like for you to read about one other owl of your choice and then summarize the passage on you own. Remember to pay attention to important facts while you read. When you finish reading, list the important facts on one side of your paper and the less important facts on the other, just like we did on the board. I'd like to see all of your ideas and key words written down on you paper along with your topic sentence. You may get started now! I'll be walking around the room if anyone needs help.

6. For assessment collect the student's papers and read over them to make sure they understand the summarization process.

7. Give each student a Five Step Summary bookmark. Say, you've all done a great job with this exercise today. The five steps we went over are listed on this bookmark; keep it in your desk or in one of your textbooks. That way you can refer back to the steps to help you with your reading summaries.

Pressley, M., C.J. Johnson, S. Symons, J.A. McGoldrick, and J.A. Kurity (1989) Strategies that Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of Text. The Elementary School Journal, 90, 3-32.

"Whooo-o Are You?" Banks, Joan. National Geographic Kids. November 2002. pp.17-19

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