Sum It Up!
Maggie Saye
Reading to Learn Plan

Rationale: Students must learn how to use strategies in reading to effectively comprehend text and its ideas. There are a few strategies that have been proven to be effective comprehension strategies: summarization, representational imagery, mnemonic devices, story grammar, question generation, and question answering. This lesson will focus on teaching the strategy of summarization to students through finding the main idea in each paragraph from an expository text. When students are able to summarize well, they will be able to utilize this strategy and become better at comprehending.

Materials: poster displaying the six rules of summarization (delete trivial information, delete redundant information, substitute general terms for a list of items, integrate a series of event with a general action term, select a topic sentence, and invent a topic sentence if there is none,) Volcanic Lightening article from the Smithsonian online (, Salem Prologue article from National Geographic (, and the summary worksheet.

1. First, I will explain to the students that in order to be truly effective readers, we must not only read fluently, but also comprehend what are reading. One strategy that helps us to comprehend what we read is summarization. When we summarize, we explain the main ideas in a passage. By explaining the main ideas, we are forced to really think about what we are reading instead of just quickly and correctly reading text. Today we will be applying the strategy of summarization to an article about the Salem Witch Trials by finding the main idea in each paragraph.
2. I will say to students, "Before we read for comprehension, let's discuss a little more about summarization. There are six rules that will help us when we are summarizing.� I will then point to the poster displaying the six rules and go over each. The rules of summarization are as follows:
-Delete trivial (or unimportant) information.
-Delete redundant (or repeated) information.
-Substitute general terms for lists of items.
-Integrate a series of events with a general action term.
-Select a topic sentence.
-Invent a topic sentence if there is none.
3. I will say to students, "Let's read an article together and I will show you how you can summarize each paragraph in one or two sentences. The article we will be looking at together is called Volcanic Lightening. This article is about how volcanic eruptions can cause lightening to strike. Let's read it and find out why. When we first read it, let's review our fluency strategy of expression. Make sure to pay careful attention to the words and punctuation in the sentence to know how the author meant for it to be expressed."� I would then demonstrate the first sentence with and without expression. 'When Mount St. Augustine in Alaska erupted in mid-January 2006 for the first time in 20 years, researchers at the Alaska Volcano Observatory knew they had a rare opportunity on their hands.' I didn't use very much expression, did I? I was just focused on correctly reading the words. This time, I will try it with expression. 'When Mount St. Augustine in Alaska erupted in mid-January 2006 for the first time in 20 years, researchers at the Alaska Volcano Observatory knew they had a rare opportunity on their hands.' That had much more expression, didn't it? Now, let's read the text out loud with expression and decide what the main ideas of each paragraph are." I would then have the class read the first paragraph aloud together and say, "Good job using expression!"
4. Say to students, "Now let's look at each sentence and see if we can find the main ideas. In the first sentence, the author is talking about how rare it is that the volcano erupted. Then in the second sentence, they said that the eruption caused lightening and they really aren't sure why. The last sentence is a quote by a scientist saying you have to be there at just the right time and have the right equipment to know why the volcano eruption causes lightening to strike. So how can I find the main idea of all those sentences and combine them into one or two summary sentence? I can start by getting the main idea from each sentence. I will start my sentence by saying 'Sometimes, although it is rare, volcano eruptions cause lightening to strike.' But, that's only the information from the first sentence. I have to also say that scientists aren't sure why the eruptions cause lightening to strike and that they have to have to right equipment. So I could change my sentence to say 'Although scientists aren't sure why volcanoes can cause lightening to strike, they are working to find out by setting up equipment when the time is likely for an eruption.' Do you think that might work? I think so."�
5. I will say to students, "Now that we have discussed how to summarize and you have seen me do it with one paragraph, I want you to show me that you can do it too. I am going to give each of you a copy of the Salem Prologue, an article from National Geographic. This article is about the Salem witch trials. I want you to read this article to yourself, but make sure to still use expression when reading and just say it in your mind. Read the article one time and then reread it before you begin to try and discover the main ideas in the paragraph. I am also going to pass out a worksheet to you that will help you to analyze each sentence and have a space for writing your draft summary sentence and your final summary sentence. I want you to fill this out for all seven paragraphs. The paragraphs aren't too long and you will get the hang out summarization the more you practice, so don't worry about time. You will be able to do it and I will be available to help you at any time. Just raise your hand if you need my help. When you get your article you may begin, but remember to read the article twice before summarizing."
6. After students begin reading, I will walk around and monitor them to make sure they are reading silently and not having any problems. I will continue to walk around the room and help students as they work on their summaries and worksheets.
7. When every student has completed the worksheet, I will take them up. After every worksheet has been turned in, we will go through the article by paragraphs and discuss how we could be summarize each paragraph in one or two sentences to capture the main ideas.
8. I will assess students by their written summaries to the Salem Prologue article on their worksheet. If they were able to effectively use the comprehension strategy of summarization and their writing reflects this, I will know they have grasped the concept.

1. National Geographic, Salem Prologue,
2. Smithsonian, Volcanic Lightening,
3. Michael Pressley. Strategies That Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of Text. The Elementary School Journal. University of Chicago: 1989.
4. Summer Patterson. "Summing It Up",

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