Reading to Learn Lesson Design: 
It's a Peach of an Idea!

By:  Mari Manning

 Rationale:  The main goal of reading is comprehension.  Students can use many strategies to comprehend written text.  One of the most important strategies for children to learn is summarization.  Summarization can be defined as finding the most important information from a reading.  To effectively summarize a text, students must follow several rules:  identify main information, delete trivial and redundant information, and relate main and supporting ideas.  This lesson is designed to help students identify the main information in each chapter of a book.  During this lesson, students will work together in literature groups and identify the main idea and supporting details of each chapter.  They will use this lesson to answer several comprehension questions each day.  After the lesson, the students will be able to effectively summarize a text and use the information to help comprehend the story.  The students will understand the importance and usefulness of summarizing and will be able to freely practice it when reading any text.



  1. Introduce the lesson by explaining what it means to summarize a text.  "Since we have all had plenty of practice sounding out words and recognizing words from memory, we are going to practice on understanding what we read.  Understanding what we read is very important.  It helps us understand what happens in a story, and it helps us relate the story to our own lives.  We are going to practice summarizing a story.  Summarizing means to find the most important information in a story.  Stories contain a lot of information, and only some of it – the most important parts – help us understand what happens.  We are going to practice finding the main idea and supporting details of that main idea.  Today when we try to find the main ideas and supporting details, we must read silently to ourselves.  Remember when we talked about reading silently?  Let's review how to read silently.  You pull out a book and read each page silently to yourself.  You do not talk to anyone around you, and you do not read so the person next to you can hear you.  Watch me read silently."  Teacher pulls out a book and sits at her desk to read silently for a few seconds.  "See, that's how we read silently.  Now, I want you to pull out your library books and show me that you know how to read silently."  Students pull out books and read silently until teacher tells them to stop.
  2. Teacher further explains main idea.  "Okay, good.  I'm glad to see that everyone remembers how to read silently.  Now, remember the 5 W's we have been talking about in our reading groups?  When you are reading, think about the 5 W's – who, what, when, where, and why.  Asking yourself these questions will help you find the main idea.  The main idea is usually one or two sentences that say what the author is trying to tell us about something.  It isn't usually a sentence that comes straight from the reading; it is usually a sentence that you have to come up with that summarizes what the reading is mainly about.  Main ideas can be found in paragraphs, chapters, or whole stories.  The supporting details are the most important details that go along with the main idea.  Try to find 4 or 5 good supporting details that go along with each main idea.  They can describe it, tell about it, or be events related to it.  They back up what you say to be the main idea.  Today, we are going to practice finding the main idea and the supporting ideas in the chapters of James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl."
  3. Teacher gives a book talk on the book.  "This book is about a little boy named James.  One day, James drops some magic crystals by an old peach tree.  After a few days, very strange things start to happen.  The peach growing at the top of the tree starts getting bigger and bigger until it is big enough for James to climb into.  Then one day the stem breaks with James still inside of the peach!  What do you think will happen to James?  (Students can make predictions).  We will have to read to find out!"
  4. Teacher models how to find main idea.  "Now, I am going to split you into four groups and give each individual a copy of the book.  The group you are in will be your literature group for the time we read and discuss this book.  Your group members will be there to discuss the story with you and answer any questions you may have."  Teacher splits class into groups and hands out a copy of the book to everyone.  "Now that everyone has a book, I am going to show you a model you can use when finding the main idea and supporting details in each chapter. (Teacher draws a giant peach on the board with a visible stem).  The stem on this peach is where I am going to put my main idea sentence.  The area inside the peach is where I am going to put my supporting details.  Does everyone understand?  Okay, first I want to explain to you what we will be doing with this book for the next few weeks.  I want you to read 2 chapters each week and meet with your literature groups every Thursday.  Each Thursday, I want each group to pick up 2 peach worksheets just like mine and fill it in to turn in to me.  You should work with your group to come up with a main idea and supporting details of each chapter.  I am going to have 2 comprehension questions about the chapters on the board each meeting.  If you and your group have successfully discussed the assigned chapter and have successfully filled in your peach worksheets, then the questions should be no problem for you and your group.  The peach model is designed to help you answer the questions.  Now, to get us started, I am going to read the first chapter aloud.  As I am reading, think about the 5 W's and use them to help you come up with the main idea and some supporting details.  When I am finished reading, I will need your help to fill in the giant peach I have drawn on the board."  Teacher reads the first chapter aloud (it is very short – 3 pages long).  When she is finished, she gets the children to help her fill in the main idea and several supporting details.  She then asks the children 2 questions to test their comprehension of the first chapter (the questions will be based on the 5 W's and be related to the main idea):  What happened to James' parents in London?  What was the only thing James saw in his aunts' garden?  The teacher will call on students to answer the questions and show them how it relates to the 5 W's and the main idea and supporting details the class came up with to summarize the chapter.  "Very good!  I think you have the hang of it.  Now, I want everyone to read chapters 2 and 3 by next Thursday and be prepared for the assignments."
  5. The students read 2 chapters a week and get with their groups to discuss the story, fill in the peach main idea worksheets, and answer the comprehension questions.  The teacher will walk around and assist as she is needed.
  6. For assessment, the teacher will take up all the peach main idea worksheets each week to see if the groups are successfully using the summarization strategy.  She will meet with any group that she feels needs help.  Teacher will evaluate the worksheets using the following checklist:

Teacher will then have the groups to retell the story based on their diagrams that they used during their meetings.  They will rewrite each chapter together, listing their main ideas and supporting details and drawing an illustration.  Their rewrites will become class books when they are finished.


Dahl, Roald.  James and the Giant Peach.  New York:  Penguin Books USA Inc.  1961.

 Pressley, Michael, et. al.  "Strategies that Improve Children's Memory and

Comprehension of Text."  The Elementary School Journal.  Vol. 90, No. 1.  1989.  3-29.

 Willoughby, Misti.  Summing it all up in a Nutshell.

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