Slim Down to the Good Stuff by Summarizing


By: Anna Ludlum

 Reading to Learn


Rationale:  Comprehension is one of the most important things to teach to children while they are learning how to read.  A good way to help children comprehend text is to summarize.  To be able to read and recall information from an expository text, children need instruction in summarization.  By deleting trivial information, deleting redundant information, substituting superordinate terms for a list of items, and creating a topic sentence, students will be able to remember factual information better.

Butcher Paper
Dry Erase Board
Dry Erase Markers
Copies of "The World's Smallest Bird" article from National Geographic for each student
Copies of Dare to Dream: Four True Life Stories About Imagination by Edgar, Kathleen; Edgar, Susan; and Rinaldo, Denise, Thompson Publishingö copies of pages 13-17 (the chapter on Dr. Seuss) for each student

1.) Start by reviewing how to read silently and introduce the article. "Have you ever wondered what the smallest bird in the world is?  Well today we are going to find out by reading an article about the world's smallest bird.  First before we start reading, I would like to review how to read silently.  Watch me as I read silently." I will read the first paragraph of the article to myself.  "Now I am going to pass out the article and I would like for each of you to read the title and the article to yourself.  I should not hear anyone making a sound.  I want to see your eyes following along as you read."
2.) "You all did a great job of reading silently!  Now we are going to learn how to summarize the article.  Who can tell me what a summary is?  Well a summary can be written by picking out the main points in a story or passage.  There are six different steps to keep in mind when you are summarizing." Write these steps on a piece of butcher paper.
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
6. Invent a topic sentence if there is none
3.) Next, break the class into groups. “A great way to summarize a piece of literature is to use a skill called mapping.  When we map a reading we put the main idea or topic in a middle circle and the supporting details around the outside like antennas." Now, in your group use these six steps to make a map of our article.  Put the map on your dry erase board.  "The middle circle will be what?  The topic, very good.  What is the topic of our article? The world's smallest bird? Yes, it is a hummingbird so this will be our center circle.  Now we will make antennas coming out from our circle, which will describe something important about the hummingbird.  What is something described in the article about a hummingbird? The size of the hummingbird would be interesting so we would put in this circle that the weight of the smallest hummingbird is 2 grams.  In order to keep adding on to the web you will need to come up with some more important information from the article describing hummingbirds."  At this time allow the students' some time to finish their web or at least write down some more key points from the article.  Explain also after finishing the web you can write all of these important details into complete sentences, which will be about one paragraph and this will be your summary.
4.) Give children the article on Dr. Suess to read.  Instruct students to make a summarization map of the passage and write a summarization paragraph, using their map.  Check each map and summary making sure that the students are using all six steps of summarization.  Use a checklist including the items:

1. Deleted unimportant information:  yes or no
2. Deleted repeated information:  yes or no
3. Substituted easy terms for lists of items:  yes or no
4. Added a series of events with an easy action term:  yes or no
5. Selected a topic:  yes or no
6. Invented a topic sentence if there was none:  yes or no

            Pressley, M. Johnson, CJ Symons, McGoldrick, JA.  (1989)  Strategies that Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.  “The Elementary School Journal.” 90, 3-32.

            Summarizing to Understand By. Amanda Starnes. Reading Genie Website

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