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Summarize Successfully!

Reading to Learn

Jessi Hodge

  Comprehension is an extremely important part of reading successfully.  Summarization helps children build their comprehension skills.  Children should be able to pick out the important parts of the text each time they read.  There are several strategies that help students comprehend reading material. 



  1. Ask the children, “Does anyone know what summarization is?”  Have class discuss on summarization.  “Summarization is picking out the important facts out of something that you are reading.  When you summarize, you don’t focus on all the details.  Today, we’re going to learn how to summarize.  This will help you become better readers.  We’re going to read silently at our desks.  Can anyone tell me how we read silently at our desks?  Good Job.  We read to ourselves, and we don’t talk to anyone around us.
  2. “There are three steps to summarizing a story.”  Read the students a short paragraph of a story and model how to summarize it.  For example the article Grossology(http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngkids/0204/ws_main.html)  Point to the poster with the summarization techniques on it.  “Before we begin reading, let’s go over the three important things to remember when you read.  The first step is to pick out important ideas from the story.  Then we throw away the details that are not important.  Last we organize the important ideas and make one main idea of the story.”
  3. Pass out and introduce the article to each student.  Have them read silently through the first paragraph of the article before focusing on the summarization techniques.  Go over the summarization techniques again, and then have the students reread the first paragraph of the article.  Tell them, “When you read the story the second time, cross out all the information that isn’t important to the story with a pencil, circle the sentences that you think are important and then finally, take all the circled sentences and combine them into a sentence or two that summarizes the whole article.”  Tell them to use the three summarization techniques.  Tell them to write down the facts that they think are important.  Model three facts that you (teacher) think are important after they read theirs aloud.  This will help them when they do this later.   
  4.  The students should have a basic understanding of how to summarize a story now that they have had practice.  Pass out a piece of paper to each student.  Tell them to make three columns.  In the first column, they should put “Deleted Information.”  In the second column, they should put “Important Facts.”  In the third column, they should put “Most Important Ideas.”  Explain to them to fill in information from the story into the three columns.  Model using the first paragraph again.  This is a great way to scaffold for the students.  If a student continues to have problems putting the information into the columns on paper, allow them to continue using cross out/circle method.  “Please finish reading your article silently. You should have three columns on your paper, write the sentences in the column that they fit under as you read the article, if it helps continue to cross out unimportant information and circle important stuff. Remember to write down all of your information as you go.”
  5.  Continue to practice summarization strategies so that students can successfully master the skill of summarizing.


 You can check students’ summarization skills by checking their work with a rubric, to see whether they have used the cross out/circle method or the column method.  You could also ask students questions related to the article. 


Let’s Summarize- Jane Moncrief  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invent/moncriefrl.html

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