Star Summarizers










      Reading to Learn

    Kimberly Barton


Rationale: Reading comprehension is one of the most important components to learning how to read. Children not only need to be able to read words but also understand what they are reading and what the words mean. A good way to help children learn this is to teach them summarizing skills, which allow them to retain only the important ideas. During this lesson students will learn how to develop a semantic map made of stars, and then compile a summary. They will practice summarizing the first part of the book, All About Frogs  by Jim Arnosky with modeling help by the teacher. Then the students will compose their own semantic map and summary for the second part.  



All About Frogs  by Jim Arnosky

Butcher paper


Star semantic map handouts


Summary checklist



  1. I will begin the lesson by explaining to the students how important it is that we understand what we read. “Good readers are not only fluent when they read, but they also understand what they read. This is called comprehension (write the word on the board). When you comprehend something that means that you understand it. So, in order to understand what you read we are going to learn how to summarize, or write a summary. Summarizing helps us pick out the important parts of what you are reading.”
  2. Ask the students “Who can tell me what a summary is? A summary is a short description of something that you read. Writing summaries is a great way to help you remember what you have read.” 
  3. Book talk: “I know we all have many questions about frogs. They are such interesting creatures. Well, this book can answer all of our questions. For example, what is the difference in a frog and toad? How do they grow out of a tadpole? What all do they eat? Let’s read the book to find the answers to these questions and learn more about frogs!”
  4. “I am going to pass out a copy of the book to each of you and I would like you to read the first chapter silently to yourself. You must not read out loud or talk to your neighbors. As you read the first chapter, I want you to write down the things that you think are the most important in the story. For example, you can include where and when the story is taking place, who the main characters are, what is the problem or problems in the story, etc. You must remember these three key points of summarization: 1) find the main point 2) delete any small details 3) combine all ideas that are repeated.”
  5. As the students begin to read the chapter silently, I will put the butcher paper up on the board to draw a semantic map. When they finish reading I will explain the concept of semantic mapping and how it helps us to summarize. “We are now going to use this semantic map to sum up the chapter we just read. I am going to show you how to create a semantic map, so as I fill in this one, I would like you to fill in yours on your desk. In the big star in the middle, I will write Sarah, Plain and Tall Ch. 1. On each of the smaller stars that are connected to the big star, I will write an important fact.” Complete the semantic map on the board as a class, while students create the semantic map on their paper as well. This will be a good model for them to look back on when they create semantic map on their own for later summaries.
  6. Next I will explain to the students, “Now we are going to use the semantic map we created to summarize chapter one into a few sentences, or summary.” I’ll model how to use the important details in the map to create a brief summary made of a few sentences and tell the students to copy this on their own paper so they can use it as a model for writing summaries in the future. “When we summarize there are three important points to remember: 1) you want to find the main points 2) delete any small details, and 3) combine any repeated ideas.” I will remind students to focus on using the information they put in the stars when writing their summary. Have students contribute to this summary by volunteering what they think is important or saying what they think is not important (trivial information). I will make sure that all students are following along and they understand the steps of semantic mapping and summarizing.
  7. The students will read part two of All About Frogs  silently. I will instruct them to create a semantic map on their own using the steps we just practiced together. I will explain that they must create both a semantic map and then compose a summary in paragraph form (three to five sentences long).


Assessment: In order to assess the students, I will collect their semantic maps and summaries of chapter two and check to make sure the students have grasped the concept of summarization. The semantic map must include the main topic written in the center along with important ideas in each connected star. I’ll use a check list to make sure the students remembered to 1) include the main points 2) delete small details 3) combine repeated ideas.



MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall. Harper Collins Publisher. 1987.


Williams, Abby. “Let’s Sum It All Up.”



Kimberly Barton-


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