"Can We Put It Together?  Yes, We Can!"


Reading to Learn Design

 By:  Hannah Paxton

Comprehension is the overarching goal of reading.  There are several strategies that can be used to gain meaning and knowledge from text.  According to Pressley, there are six strategies that are particularly effective for elementary students:  summarization, representational imagery, mnemonic devices, story grammar, question generation, and question answering.  This lesson focuses on the strategy of summarization.  Students will learn to delete unimportant and redundant information, substituted simple words for lists of items, place items and events in order, and create a topic statement that generalizes the message the author is trying to convey.  When students are able to perform the components of summarization, their ability to understand and recall the meaning of text will improve.


* 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.

* "Is Pluto No Longer a Planet?" article:  http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/SpaceScience/Pluto-planet

* "Ten Freaky Forces of Nature" article:  http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/SpaceScience/Freaky-forces-of-nature

* Pencil for each student

* Highlighter for each student

* Notebook paper for each student

* Attached assessment checklist


1.  Introduce the concept of reading comprehension and the strategy of summarization.  Say:  "In order to be effective readers, we must not only ready fluently, but also comprehend, or understand, what we are reading.  One strategy that will help us to comprehend things we read is summarization, which helps us narrow down the text to only the most important ideas.  When we summarize, we explain the main ideas which helps us to focus on the meaning of what we are reading."

2.  Pass out "Is Pluto No Longer a Planet?" article to all students.  Review components of fluency.  Say:  "Remember that fluency means to read quickly, smoothly, and with expression.  When we are fluent readers, we are able to read silently.  I would like for you to read the first two paragraphs of the article silently. [Give students time to read.]  Now let's practice reading with fluency.  I'm going to read the first three sentences quickly, smoothly, and with expression. 'In the game Pluto's Secret, Nat tells his friend Geo that he heard that Pluto is no longer a planet. Is Nat right? Is Pluto no longer a planet?'  Now, let's read the sentence together with fluency.  'In the game Pluto's Secret, Nat tells his friend Geo that he heard that Pluto is no longer a planet. Is Nat right? Is Pluto no longer a planet?'  That was great!  You all read fluently."

3.  Explain summarization.  Say:  "Before we read our article, let's discuss how to summarize.  There are six rules that will help us to summarize text.  [Point to poster with six summarization rules.]  These are the six rules we will follow today:

-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."

4.  Model summarization.  Say:  "Now I'll show you how was can use the six summarization rules.  Let's read 'Is Pluto No Longer a Planet?' together and I'll show you how we can summarize each paragraph in one or two sentences.  This article will tell us if scientists still consider Pluto a planet.  Let's read it together and learn what scientists have decided.  Let's read the first paragraph together.  [Read the first paragraph aloud with class.]  Now, let's look at each sentence and see if we can find the main ideas.  In the beginning of the article, the author talks about the debate on whether Pluto is a planet or not.  In the next sentence, it says that the International Astronomical Union only considers an object that orbits the sun and is large enough to have become round due to the force of its own gravity a planet.  The last sentence says that Pluto doesn't meet these standards, so it is classified as a dwarf planet.  How can I find the main idea of all these sentences and combine it into one or two sentences?  I'll start by getting the main idea from each sentence.  I could start my statement by saying 'There is a debate about Pluto being a planet.' But that's only the information from my first sentence; I have to add that the International Astronomical Union classifies Pluto as a dwarf planet because it doesn't meet the qualifications for a planet.  So, I could make my summary sentence 'The International Astronomical Union has classified Pluto as a dwarf planet, ending the debate about the classification of Pluto as a planet.  Does everyone think this sentence captures the main idea of the first paragraph?  I think so, too."

5.  Allow students to practice summarizing.  Say:  "Now that you have helped me to summarize a paragraph, I would like you to practice in partners.  [Divide students into pairs and pass out "Ten Freaky Forces of Nature" article to each student.]  I'm going to give each of you 'Ten Freaky Forces of Nature,' an article from the National Geographic Website.  This article is about nature's unbelievable power.  I would like for each of you to read the article silently, but remember to use expression, even though you are reading the article to yourself.  Now, I'm going to assign each of our groups to a paragraph in the article.  [There are eleven paragraphs, so assign groups accordingly.]  Please read the paragraph your pair was assigned to at least twice.  I would like you and your partner to work together to find the main idea in each sentence of your paragraph.  You can highlight the main idea in each sentence or you can underline it with your pencil.  After you and your partner find the main idea for each sentence, I would like you to work individually to create one or two summary sentences."

6.  Monitor and help students as they work on the summarization strategy. 

7.  Share summaries.  Say:  "Now that we are finished, let's share what we learned from the article.  I would like the pair that had the first paragraph to share their one or two summary sentences."  [Allow each pair to share, discussing any problems each group had while summarizing.]

8.  For assessment:  Each student will turn in their individual summary for their assigned paragraph.  Student's summaries will be assessed using the attached rubric.  If each student was able to effectively use each component of summarization, they will have understood the strategy.






Delete unimportant information.



Delete repeated information.



Substitute easy words for lists of items.



Add a series of events with an easy action term.




Select a topic.



Invent a topic sentence if there is not one






Michael Pressley. "Strategies That Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of Text." The Elementary School Journal. University of Chicago: 1989.

National Geographic Kids Website:  http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/SpaceScience/Pluto-planet

National Geographic Kids Website:  http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/SpaceScience/Freaky-forces-of-nature

Maggie Saye, Sum It Up!:  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/sayerl.html


Emily Tyler, Sum it Up:  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/tylerrl.html

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