“Summaries, Summaries, and More Summaries!”


Reading to Learn

Jennifer Falls


            Comprehension can be thought of as one using their own background knowledge and experiences along with the author’s cues to create an understanding of a text.  A great way for someone to increase or strengthen their comprehension skills is for them to learn how to summarize what they read.  Summarizing is very important because it helps you comprehend the main point or points in what you read.  In this lesson students will learn the five steps of summarization and how to use them by demonstrating and using them in a passage they will be given.  They will learn how to summarize a text and be able to apply those skills in their everyday reading abilities.       
* paper
* pencils
* A chart with the 6 summarization steps listed:                          
        1.  Delete unimportant information.
        2.  Delete repeated information.
        3.  Substitute easy words 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 not one. 
* 12” x 12” squares of poster board
* markers
* chart paper
* bookmarks with the six summarization steps displayed on them for every student
* copies of the article “Freaky Frogs” from National Geographic for every student
* overhead projector
* part of article class reads together: 
    “Frogs are found on every continent except Antarctica.  Some live in cities, deserts, mountains, or grasslands.  But most frogs prefer wet areas.  The wetter, the better.  They really like ponds, marches, and rain forests” (
* copy of a sample checklist with each students name on it:          
    Sample Checklist:
1.  picked out the important details in general?                                           
          Yes O  No O                                                                                                                    
2.  got rid of less important or repeated ideas?                                                                                         
         Yes O  No O                                                                                                                   
3.  highlighted important details using key words?                                                                                        
         Yes O  No O                                                                                                                      
4.  picked a topic sentence?                                                                                                                   
         Yes O  No O
5.  invented a topic sentence if there is none?
         Yes O No O   

         1.  Start the lesson off by reviewing over how to read silently.  Ask the students “Who can tell me what it means to read silently?” Right, you are correct, it is when we read words using our eyes, but reading it in our heads and not saying anything out loud with our mouths.”  Then model how to silent read.  I will have a sentence strip at the front of the classroom with the sentence “I have two small dogs and one big cat.”  I will show the sentence strip to the class and first read the sentence out loud to the class.  Then tell students “Now I am going to practice reading the sentence silently.”  I will face the sentence towards me so I can read it and they can see me reading it.  While I read the sentence I will over-dramatize my eye movement from right to left as I read and I will move my mouth to the movements of each word as I am reading without saying anything.  Then I will say to the class “see how I read silently and my neighbors did not hear me or get distracted.”  After modeling ask the students “Who can tell me why silent reading is great?”  “Very good, it helps you remember and comprehend what you read.” 

          2.  Tell the class that there are also other things that we can do to help us comprehend what we are reading and one of those is to summarize.  When we summarize something we retell the text by stressing only the important parts in order to highlight the main ideas in the text.  When we summarize a text we shorten it by creating a short description of what we read and leaving out the information that is not very important or repeated.  Summarization helps us to understand a text we read silently and everyone is going to learn the steps involved in summarizing.”  Tell the class that today we are going to practice reading silently and learn how to make summaries of what we read.    

          3.  Next hand out copies to everyone of the passage titled “Freaky Frogs” and the bookmarks with the steps on them.  Tell the students that the bookmarks are to help them later if they need it and now we are going to practice summarizing by using the article titled “Freaky Frogs.”  Ask “can anyone guess what their article might be about?”  (let students have time to guess and spark each others interest by guessing)  “Does anyone know any frog facts?” (let students discuss with a partner close by) 

          4. Put small portion of article that is listed in the materials on the board.  Say “Now we are going to read a portion of the article together.  Then we will go back through what we read and pick out the important parts and model what to do so everyone is on the right track.  (Read small portion of article to the class and help the class find the main ideas.  Help students come up with a topic sentence.)  Write down the main ideas and topic sentence on the board for everyone to see. 
       Write on the board:  Frogs are found everywhere on Earth except Antarctica.  They like wet areas such as ponds, marches, and rain forests. 

          5.  Tell the class “Now I want all of you to read the rest of the article that we did not read.  While you are reading I want everyone to pay close attention to what the text is telling you.  After everyone has read the article, we will practice summarizing it and finding the most important parts of the article.  Also remember that I should not hear anyone talking because everyone is reading silently.” 

                6.  Next say to the class “Now that you have read the article and you know what summarizing means we will learn the six steps of summarizing.”  (Have the chart with the six steps recorded on a chart at the front of the classroom.) 
                    1.  Delete unimportant information.
                    2.  Delete repeated information.
                    3.  Substitute easy words 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 not one. 

Say to class “It is important to delete unimportant information that we may be distracted by.  This will help us to focus on the main points of the article.  Deleting repeated information is important because it rids the article or reading selection of extra information that we already know.  When we substitute easy words for lists of items we are able to shorten the amount of information we have to remember.  For example, we may want to remember a list such as lollypops, bubble gum, Jolly Ranchers, peppermints, Reeses, and Heresy Kisses.  We may want to simplify that list by calling it “candy.”  We can place each of these foods under the topic candy to help us recall them.  We can add a series of events with an action term to help us recall a passage as well.  Then we can select a topic of the events in our passage and create a topic sentence that describes the passage we have read.”

                7.  Tell the class “Now we are going to talk about what you read in the article together.  I am going to draw a picture on the chart paper.  This drawing is called a web.  Webs help us organize our information and understand what we know.  (Web ideas are great for visual instruction and help!)  Remember to look at the summary checklist on our other chart or your bookmarks everyone has.  Where do I put the main topic on our web?”  (the middle) “Great job!  What should I put in the middle of the web?” (frogs) “Very nice!  Who can give me a main point from the article on frogs?”  Call upon the students and record their comments on the web.  Explain that we should be able to create a paragraph that summarizes the entire article.  You can use the web to help you create your summary by using some of the facts that have been listed.  Each section on our web can be used to create a sentence to help create a short paragraph."
                8.  Now I will have the children work in groups of two.  Pass out the poster board squares, individual checklists, and markers to each pair of students.  "A wonderful way to help us learn to summarize is by creating a web just like the one we did together.  Can anyone tell me how to begin the web?  Great!  We place the topic of the article in the center of our posters.  Then we write facts or pieces of information out to the side.  Use your checklist to make sure you have used the six steps for summarizing.  Good luck!  I will be walking around to help if you need me!"

        In order to assess every students understanding of the topic I will walk around the room observing every student.  I will compare their checklists with their webs.  I will also have them individually write a brief summary paragraph based on their web from the article.  I will make sure they actually eliminated unimportant or repeated information.  When everyone is finished I will get them to hand their papers in and have a group discussion about the summaries and the steps they used.  I will use a checklist to determine which steps they used in the summarization process.  Also make sure the students went through the different steps and understood them. 
Foster, Ridney. “Sensational Summarization!”

Lunceford, Valerie. “Sensational Summarizers.”

National Geographic Explorer.  “Freaky Frogs.”
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