“Comprehension in the Cold”
Lindsey Tomlinson

Rational: Comprehension is one of the most important parts of teaching children how to read effectively. One part of comprehension is summarization. If children learn how to summarize an article, they will be able to comprehend it better. In this lesson, I will model how to teach children to summarize an expository article.

Materials: enough copies of the following article for each child: “Life in a Deep Freeze” from November/December 2002 National Geographic Explorer, 3 large sheets of butcher paper, white paper, pencils, markers, chalk.

1. Pass out the articles to the children in the class. “Today, we are going to read this article I have just passed out to you. But, before we begin we are going to review how to read quiet as a mouse. I am going to read the first two sentences of this article with just my eyes. (Read the sentences without moving your mouth.) Does everyone remember reading as quiet as a mouse? Good! Now, while you read, I want you to write down some words that you think are important. Important words may be words that you do not see very much but have a lot of meaning. ” (Give the children an ample amount of time to completely read the article.)

2. Begin lesson on summarization: “Now, I want you to think about what you have just read in the article “Life in a Deep Freeze.”  What did you write down? Does anyone want to tell me some words they wrote down? (Take children’s answers and respond with why.) I am going to read you the first paragraph of this article. (Read the article and write down a few important facts.) Let’s make a cluster with these words. “Does everyone know what a cluster or map looks like? First, we are going to make a circle in the middle. The animals that are Escape Artists will go in the middle. Now, let’s find some facts about them that are interesting.” (Model how to make a cluster on the board with words encircled and lines to connect them all.)

3. “I’m going to split you up into three groups to do the same thing with the rest of the article. The group names will coincide with what you have just read. They are “Escape Artists,” “Dressed for Winter,” and “The Layered Look.” I want you to re-read those sections of the article and make a cluster on your butcher paper. Write down important facts and words that you think we all need to know.  Don’t forget to work as a team!”

4. Assessment: Have each group come up to the board and present their cluster. They will tell why they chose the words.   After all three groups have completed their presentation pass out white paper to each child.  “Now I want everyone to look at these three maps and make a general map on the sheet of paper. Take the information from all three clusters and make one cluster.” Have the children finish this. Look over them to see if they understand the concept of summarization.

• Cluster has important information regarding the article.
• Cluster does not have too much information.
• Student focused on the main points instead of meaningless ones.


Markle, Sandra. “Life in a Deep Freeze.” National Geographic Explorer. November-December 2002 issue. pg. 10-13.                     www.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/0211/articles/mainarticle/html.

Pressley, Michael. "Strategies That Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of
Text". The Elementary School Journal. Volume 90, number 1. 1989

“Summarization Mapping” by Lindsay Dean www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/elucid/deanrl.html

“Summing Up SuperCroc” by Meg Crow www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/elucid/crowrl.html

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