Learning About Lemurs – A Summarization

By: Lauren Beno



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, et. al.) 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, using five summarization steps listed below to aid them in summarizing an Article about Lemurs. After this lesson, my goal for them will be that hopefully, 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.
    -Copy of the article Lemurs, in National Geographic Kids News for each student("Lemurs" appears on pages 18-23 of the October 2005 issue).

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 it invent a topic sentence if we don’t have one.  I’m going to pass out bookmarks to each of you that have these steps on them so you won’t forget our 5 steps of summarization.  You can use these whenever you need a little help."

3.    "Alright, now that we are familiar with comprehension and summarization, we are going to read a passage from an article and put our steps into action.  Read the section that is noted “Night Stalkers” SILENTLY 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 is finished reading, summarize this first section with the whole class making sure they understand the steps of summarization.  While doing this as a class, make sure to model the five steps.  "After reading the first paragraph, here are the main points that I came up with."  Write the following on the board:  1. The Aye-Aye is the strangest lemur of all.  2. This lemur is nocturnal, this means it comes out at night.  "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:  1.  Some Lemurs have an image problem.  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 student to suggest:  highlight some keywords.  "Great job!  You’re right.  I thought that the keywords were: Nocturnal, Insects, Hollow trees, Long Claw .  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: There are about 60 different kinds of Lemurs, some are nocturnal, some only come out in the daytime –  the aye-aye is nocturnal.  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 yall another section to summarize in the Lemur article. Give the students another section and place them in groups of no more than four. 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. Now students, I want each of yall to read the rest of the article silently.  Give a brief article talk – “Students, you have been introduced somewhat to the lives and nature of Lemurs. I want you to continue to learn about them by reading the rest of this article. You will learn where they live, and how people are helping this interesting creature escape form the risk of being endangered.”

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. 



·        Fleming, Nell. 1,2,3…A summary! http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/connect/flemingrl.html

·        Ebersole, Rene. Lemurs. http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/0510/articles/mainarticle.html

·        Melton, Shealy. Summin It All Up. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/connect/meltonrl.html

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