Don’t Despise, Summarize!

Ready to Learn
Amy Berger


The goal of reading instruction is comprehension. In order to comprehend text, it is necessary for students to learn strategies that they can use on their own. Summarization is an effective, research-based strategy that aids children in comprehending text (Pressley) Three rules make up the strategy of summarization: deleting trivia and redundancies, superordinating items and events, and compositing a statement to cover everything the writer is saying. In this lesson, students will work in pairs and use the five summarization steps listed below to aid them in summarizing an Article about “The Truth Behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.” After this lesson, they will be able to effectively comprehend text by using the summarization strategy on their own.


-A bookmark for each student with the 5 summarization steps on it
           Summarization steps:
            1.    Pick out important details that are necessary to the story.
            2.    Pick out the less important or repeated ideas from the passage and eliminate them. 
            3.    Highlight the important and necessary details using key words.
            4.    Pick a topic sentence
            5.    Invent a topic sentence if there is none.

-Copies of “The Truth Behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest” for each student

By Deborah Underwood

National Geographic Kids Magazine

September 08, 2006

- Copies of"Godzilla" Fossils Reveals Real-Life Sea Monster” for each student

By Stefan Lovgren

National Geographic Kids News

November 22, 2005


1.    Begin by asking students if anyone knows what comprehension means.  Wait for response and then review their responses.  "Good job!  Comprehension is understanding what we are reading and then remembering it after we are done.  Today we are going to learn a couple of steps that are going to help us comprehend our reading.  This new technique is called summarization.  When we summarize, we choose the most important parts of the story or passage that we are reading.  The whole time we are doing this, we take out some of the stuff that really doesn’t have anything to do with the main idea."

2.    Explain summarization.  "Our new tool has 5 easy steps to remember."  Write them on the board as they are explained so students will follow along.  "The first step is to pick out important details that we think are necessary to the story.  Number two says to pick out the less important ideas or ideas that are repeated and take them away.  Number three says to highlight the important and necessary details using key words.  Next, we pick a topic sentence.  Our last step is to invent a topic sentence if we don’t have one.”  Then pass out the bookmarks to each of the students to aid in remembering the 5 steps of summarization. 

3.    "Alright, now that we are familiar with comprehension and summarization, we are going to read an article and put our steps into action.”  Have the students read the article “Godzilla Fossils Reveals Real-Life Sea Monster.” Now I want you to SILENTLY read the article to yourselves.  While you are reading, make sure that you are getting enough information to summarize the paragraph.  When summarizing, remember how key it is to make sure that you are trying to figure out the important details from the ones that might not be so important.  Raise your hand when you are done so we’ll know when to move on."

4.    After the class has finished reading, summarize the paragraphs of the articles with the whole class making sure they understand the steps of summarization.  Go through the article with the students and talk about the important aspects.  Highlight parts of key sentences and cross off the words or sentences that are not relevant to summarization of the article.  While doing this as a class, make sure to model the five steps.  "After reading the first four paragraphs, here are the main points that I came up with."  Write the following on the board: 135-million-year-old "sea monster", new kind of ancient crocodile, "Godzilla" lived entirely in the water, fish-like, short, high snout and teeth that were large and jagged, Godzilla hunted for marine reptiles and other large sea creatures, meat-eating dinosaur. "Did anybody get anything different than I did?"  If someone did, write that on the board as well.  "As I keep reading, I’m going to use all of our steps.  I just did our first step and picked out what I thought were the important details.  My next step is to pick out the less important points from the paragraph.  I think these would be:  instead of legs… used mostly to keep it stable.  Write this on the board.  "Did anyone get something different?"  If they did, write it on the board.  "What is my next step?"  Wait for students to suggest:  highlight some keywords.  "Great job!  You’re right.  I thought that the keywords were: crocodyliforms, marine crocodilian, marine reptiles, meat-eating dinosaur.  Did anybody get another word?"  If they did, write it on the board.  "What do I need to do now?"  Wait for student response.  "Right!  I need to write a topic sentence.  The topic sentence I came up with is:"  Write this sentence on the board: Scientists have discovered a new kind of ancient crocodile that has completely different eating habits and features that today’s crocodile.  Did somebody get something else?"  If they did, write it on the board and discuss why they chose that.  "Good!  Since we just came up with our topic sentence, we don’t need to do step 5 since that step is to invent a topic sentence."  Make sure that this information is written on the board so they will be able to look at it when they are reading the rest of the article silently to themselves.  

5.    “Now that you all got to see how to summarize, I will place you in groups and give you all another article to summarize.” Give the students the “The Truth Behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest” article, place them in small groups, and give them a section of the article to read.
Give a brief article talk – Do pirates really bury their treasure?  Did woman really dress as men?  You’ll have to read the rest of the article to find out these interesting facts about real pirates. This allows them to collaborate about their different ideas without me telling them how to do it. During this time I will walk around monitoring their progress.

6.    Allow them to finish their group discussions, and then ask each group to share one step they discovered in their section. “I want each of you to read the rest of the article silently.”  

7.    For assessment, the students will write a brief coherent paragraph summarizing the article. I want them to use the steps that we went over but not just list them, I want their ideas to flow and make sense.  I will use the bookmarks as my own checklist to make sure that they used all of the steps of summarization correctly.  I will also ask the following questions:
                -  What did the pirates display in the movie that is not true to pirates in real life?
                -  Using evidence from the article, do you think the movie was accurate to real pirate life?  Explain why or why not.



·       Fleming, Nell. 1,2,3…A summary!

·       Melton, Shealy. Summin It All Up.

·       Beno, Lauren. Learning About Lemurs – A Summarization.

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