Tell Me All About It!!

Caitlin Clabby

Rationale: The goal of reading is comprehension.  One strategy that aids comprehension is summarization.  Summarization must be taught and explained through rules in order to help children understand and remember what they have read.  Teaching children how to summarize includes instruction on how to delete trivial details and redundancies, place items and events in order, and create a statement that contains the message the writer is trying to convey.  By providing children with instruction on how to construct summaries, they will be equipped with the knowledge of how to better interpret the meaning of the texts they read.  

Paper and pencil for each child
Highlighter for each child
Dry erase board and dry erase marker
Copy of the article, Elephants Recognize Selves in Mirror, by John Roach (found on:  one copy for each student and one for the teacher.
Copy of the article, Tiny Invaders, by Kristin Weir (found in the Nov-Dec 2006 issue of National Geographic pgs. 16-23 or on one copy for each student and one for the teacher.
2 pieces of butcher paper (one blank for teacher to draw a web on and one with 5 summarization rules listed:  pick out the important details, pick out the details that are repeated or are not important and get rid of them, use easy keywords to highlight important details, list those keywords in order as they appeared in the passage, trim the list of keywords to make one topic sentence)
Overhead projector is optional

1.  First, review silent reading with the class. "Today, we are going to review silent reading. Does anyone remember what this is?  Silent reading is when we read to ourselves with our eyes, but not out loud. Does anyone remember why we read silently?  We do this because it helps us to understand what we are reading. There are also other things we can do to help us understand what we are reading. One of these ways is by summarizing our text. Who can tell me what it means to summarize? When we summarize something we retell it, but we leave out the unimportant information and stress the important parts and main idea. When summarizing a text, your version should be shorter than what you read.  Next ask the students, “Why is summarization important for reading?" Explain that it helps us understand what is read. "Today I'm going to teach you some tips to help you summarize what you read and then we will practice together."

2.  Explain that there are five steps to summarization.  Explain the steps to the children and have them either written on the board or on a large enough piece of butcher paper for the entire class to see:  "When we summarize, we do it using five steps.  These five steps help us summarize more easily.  I have those five steps written out for you to see.  First, pick out the important details.  Second, pick out the details that are repeated or are not important and get rid of them.  Third, use easy keywords to highlight important details.  Fourth, list those keywords in order as they appeared in the passage.  Fifth, trim the list of keywords to make one topic sentence."

3. "We are going to test our summarization skills we just learned today!"  Next, pass out the article Elephants Recognize Selves in Mirror to each student. Give a quick book talk: 'This article is about how elephants can see themselves in a mirror.  I wonder what happens when they do see themself.  We will have to read to find out.' Tell the students to read the article silently. Allow enough time for each student to finish the article and do not move on until all are done. Tell the students, "I am going to model for you how to summarize a paragraph using five way steps." Read a summary of the article. Ask the children to pay close attention to the important details. (It may help to put the summary on an overhead for the class to see)

4.    Next, say to the students, "I am going to show you how to summarize a paragraph using the five steps we went over. Listen for the important facts as I read." Read the first paragraph aloud to the students. After summarizing the paragraph, remind the students of the steps you used to create the summary. Remind the students about deleting trivial information by saying, "did you notice how I only wrote the important information and left out the unimportant stuff? Good!"  "Next, I will write down keywords from the story in order on the board. Then I will make the list of key words smaller and turn it into one topic sentence." Then, I will read the topic sentence aloud to the children.

5.  Next, instruct the students to take out a highlighter. Tell the students, "Reread the rest of the article silently. Use your highlighter to highlight what you think the important parts of the article are." Provide a sufficient amount of time for each student to finish.

6.  "Now, let’s talk about what you read in the article.  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.  Remember, to look at the summary checklist on our other chart.  Where do I put the main topic on our web? (in the middle)  What should I put in the middle of our web – what is the main topic of what we just read?  Who can give me a main point from the article?" Give students a chance to answer and record their answers on the web.  Explain to the children that we should be able to create a paragraph that summarizes the entire article and that we can use the web to help create that summary by using the facts that we recorded.

7. Now I will pass out the paper for children to make their own individual webs and will have them work in pairs.  "A great way to help us summarize what we have read is by creating a web.  Who can tell me how to begin the web?  That’s right.  We place the topic of the article in the center of the paper (web).  Then we write the facts or pieces of information out to the sides and draw a line to it from the main topic.  Now I want each group to look at article and summarize it.  You do not have to use everything you highlighted, and you may add things that you did not highlight if you feel they are important for the summary.  Remember to use the checklist to make sure you have used all five steps for summarizing.  If you have any questions, raise your hand and I will be around to help you."

8.  Now have the students take out their own sheets of paper and a pencil.  Give each student a copy of the article, Tiny Invaders.  Give a quick book talk: 'This article is about all the little tiny things that we come into contact with.  There are bugs and germs and a lot more.  I wonder what these will do to out body?  Let's read to find out.'  "Read this article and summarize it as best as you can, individually.  Use the five steps we have been practicing and refer to the board if you need help."  Students should summarize the story on their own.  Then have students turn in their summarizations. 

9.   Assessment:  In order to assess the children’s understanding of summarization, I will observe the children as they work on their web.  I will compare their checklists to their webs and will have each of them write a brief summary paragraph based on their web from the article.  I will also collect their individual summaries and I will make sure they eliminated unimportant, repeated information. I will read each summarization to see if the child can summarize properly.


Horton, Shelley.  1, 2, 3…Summing It Up!

Murray, Bruce.  The Reading Genie

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