A Short Story!
Sharon Gull
Reading to Learn

Rationale:  In order to do research on a particular subject or to remember the main idea of a reading passage, children must be able to summarize.  By the end of the elementary school years children are expected to be able to summarize. Children must be able to understand and remember information in social studies and science texts in elementary school. Summarization aids in the understanding and remembering of these expository texts. Summarization is not a natural process students go through when reading; it is a skill that must be taught and explained to them.

Materials:  paper, pencil or pen, Story of the Sea (1979 Childcraft).

Procedures:  1.) Introduce the lesson by explaining the importance of summarization. Tell students that summarization is a strategy that will help them remember the important things in a reading passage.

2.) I will have students read “The Sea in Danger” (page 101).  This passage contains six paragraphs. Let students read it silently to themselves.  When they have completed the reading, I will ask very detailed questions about the reading such as: how much water is pumped into the factories every day?  More than likely most students will not remember that small detail.  Explain to students that because it is so hard to remember the less important and smaller details we can summarize a passage and only remember the main idea of the passage.

3.) Explain the six rules of summarization to students.  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 sentence, and 6) invent a topic sentence if there is none.

4.) The teacher will model the above rules for students to see and understand.  Use a passage such as “The Sea in Danger.”  Make a summary of this passage using the rules above for students to see.

5.) The teacher will choose another passage to summarize such as: “Life in the Sea”  (104). This time allow students to work together as a class to summarize this passage.  The teacher will write the summary on the board as the class composes it.  This will be practice for those who understand how to summarize and another model for those who may understand it more slowly.  It also allows students to see their peers thinking processes while composing a summary.

6) Divide students up into small groups (4-5 students.)  Each group should be assigned a different passage from Story of the Sea. Let students write a summary on their passage.  When summaries have been written, allow students to share their summaries with the class.

7.) For assessment, have each student choose a passage from Story of the Sea. (Each section is rather short; about 5-8 paragraphs.)  Ask each student to write a summary on that passage.

Reference:
· Story of the Sea, The 1979 Childcraft Annual.  Chicago: World Book-Childcraft International, Inc. 1979
· “Strategies that Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text” Pressley, Michael; Johnson, Carla J.; Symons, Sonya; McGoldrick, Jacqueline A.; and Kurita, Janice A.   The Elementary School Journal Volume 90, number 1.  1989 by the University of Chicago.

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