"The 'Bear' Facts about Summarization"

Reading to Learn
By: Claire Dugas

Rationale: Comprehension is a key goal in reading. In order for students to comprehend they must be able to recognize the most important information in the text. Mapping out is one way to introduce students to a method for sorting out the important from the unimportant information. With this skill students can then summarize any material they read. In this lesson I will introduce a mapping out exercise that will lead students to summarization.

Materials: Ranger Rick, Feb. 2003, Volume  37, Number 2 for each student, 3 sheets of paper and pencil per person, blackboard, chalk, checklist with important ideas, good topic sentence form, and superordinate idea

1. "When we read we want to understand what we are reading. That is what we call comprehension. Today I am going to show you a way to help understand the important parts of the articles or stories you read.  (Pass out copies of Ranger Rick turned to the article "Adventures of Xiao Pan") Take out 3 sheets of paper and pencil so we can map out a plan for deciding what is the important information in this article. We will break it down into paragraphs or sections to make it easier."
2. "Lets do the first one together. Look at the article and tell me what you think it is about. That’s right it is about a panda bear named Xiao Pan. Now draw a circle in the middle of your paper and write Xiao Pan-Panda Bear. I will read to you several paragraphs and I want you to read along silently and listen closely to the main points. (Read the text) Raise your hand if you have any ideas of what were the most important things I read in this passage." (Listen to the responses – samples: The panda was born on a mountain in China. His mom fed him milk when he was little. When he was born he looked like an eraser. He sleeps 20 hours a day.) "Now think about what is the most important information that we have written down. Can you write one or two sentences that summarize the passage we just read. Remember summarization is a short statement giving the most important facts. Another clue is that sometimes the most interesting details are fun facts but not really important details. For example, the fact that Pan looked like pink eraser with legs and a tail is interesting and funny but it is not an important detail." (Call on several students to get their summary statements and write them on the board. Sample: When the Chinese panda Xiao Pan was born, his mother took care of his needs. Baby panda Xiao Pan sleeps a lot and needs his mom for milk and warmth.) "These two sentences both are good summary sentences, however, the first one is more general. It uses the word 'needs' in place of 'milk and warmth'. When you have longer sections or articles to summarize you must make the summary very general. So it would be a good practice to keep the summary statement very basic."
3. "Read the next section on page 37 and do another map of the important ideas of this passage. This should involve 3 or 4 points. When you have finished we will again look at your summarizations and discuss them." (Call on several other students to give their summary sentences.)
4. Assessment: "For the last section of the article make another map, then try to write one good summary sentence. I will go around the room and check with everyone on their work. The rest of the class can read other articles in Ranger Rick while I am busy. When everyone has finished I will take them up and evaluate them. So you will know how well you did."


Joanie Baker   Sum +  It  = Up

Kelly Starr  Simple Steps of Summarization

Pressley, M. “Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.” The Elementary School Journal. Volume 90, Number 1. 1989.

"Adventures of Xiao Pan" Churchman, Deborah. Ranger Rick magazine. Volume 37, Number 2. Pp.30-37