Sum It Up

Reading to Learn Design

Hilary Shell


Rationale: When students are learning to read, reading comprehension is one of the most important components in their learning experience. Summarization is one way students can work on this skill. When putting this skill to practice, students are not only able to read the words on the page, but are able to understand what they are reading. During this lesson the children will learn the steps of summarization as well as practice summarizing the first chapter of a book.



 1  Prior to this lesson, students will have read the book, Esperanza RisingEsperanza Rising is a story of a young girl, Esperanza, which faces many hardships during her life.  Esperanza jumps from the life of riches to a life of rags in a matter of a few days. The story tells of how she copes with these new changes in her life.

 2  To begin the lesson I will ask students, Has everyone finished reading Esperanza Rising?  Did everyone like it? Next I will tell the students that since we have all finished reading we are going to practice writing a summary. Does anyone know what a summary is? If students do not know I will give them a definition. A summary is a basic description of the plot and characters in a story.  Writing summaries is a great way to help you remember things about what you have read. It is hard to remember every little detail of a story, but a summary helps you remember all the most important facts.

 3  First, I will review story structure with the children by writing it on the chalkboard. Then, I will ask them to take out their Esperanza Rising books, and re-read chapter one silently. Next, I will tell them to write down some things that they think are the most important facts about what is going on in the story as they read. Tell them, For example, I might write down who the main character is, where the story takes place, some of the problems Esperanza faces, etc. Also tell them when they are finished sit quietly until everyone is finished reading so they do not interrupt others.

 4  While the students are reading, hang the butcher paper on the wall in front of them. Make sure it is on a flat surface so that you can draw out the story map on it. Draw one large circle with five smaller circles attached to the large one. In the middle circle, write Esperanza Rising : Chapter One. When the children have finished reading the first chapter of Esperanza Rising, start the explanation of the concept of story mapping. Tell students, Now we are going to start summing up chapter one of our book.  We are going to use what is called a story summary chart to help us do this. Tell students to take out their main ideas that they wrote down while reading, and two new pieces of paper. Tell students that that the large circle in the middle of the chart explain the book and chapter we are going to summarize. Explain that the five smaller circles are where we are going to write facts that we have about chapter one (ones that they wrote on their paper). Start out by telling students, For example, I might right write down the main character’s name, Esperanza, in one circle. Now I want you to give me some of your important facts and as a class we are going to pick out the most important ones to write in our circles. I also want each of you to copy the map down on your paper to keep.

 5  After the class picks out the most important facts, make sure that what you wrote on the butcher paper, the children wrote on their paper. This is important so that the teacher can make sure that the children are following the lesson. It is also important because students will be able to look back at the one done together as a model for when they create a story map on their own. Next, tell students, We are going to sum up chapter one in a few sentences using the ideas that we wrote down in our circles.  Write down the summary the students have in their circles on the chalkboard, and tell them to do the same on their paper. Ask, Does anyone have any questions about summarizing?  Does everyone see how easy it is to summarize your reading?

 6  After modeling these steps with the students, have them re-read the second chapter of the book silently. Ask them to individually make up a story chart of the second chapter.  Once they have finished ask for a volunteer to come up to the chalkboard and write down everyone’s interesting facts on a clean sheet of butcher paper.  Then ask for another volunteer to take the interesting facts and make them into a three to five sentence summary and write it up on the chalkboard.

 7 Tell students that since we have completed two chapter summaries together, I want them to break into groups. After breaking them into groups of three or four, assign a different chapter to each group and ask one person in the group to draw their group’s story chart on a piece of paper. Also, ask another group member to write three to five sentence summaries on another sheet of paper. Walk around the room to make sure all students are participating. Tell students, When your group is finished bring them to my desk so that I can look at them.  Once I have approved your summary, then you can go back to your desk and draw a picture from the story using the markers and paper I have provided. After everyone has finished, every group is going to show and explain their story chart to the class. Does anyone have any questions?

8  After completion of the maps, call each group of students to the front of the room and let them discuss their maps and sentences with the class. Also, let them show their pictures if desired.

Assessment:  I will assess the students by observing them to see how well they are working in their groups creating their summaries, and making sure all students are participating. I will also assess them by looking at their group summaries to see if they covered all of the necessary points of the story.

         "Sum it Up" By: Ann Mathews

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