Summing It UP

Lesson Design: Reading to Learn

Cody Godwin


Rationale: Comprehension is a very important part of reading.  Being able to summarize is something that helps readers develop better comprehension skills.  Summarizing also helps students realize what is important in a story and pick it out and leave out the unimportant parts.  In this lesson, students will learn how to leave out useless information when reading, pick out the important information, and create a topic sentence.

-Dry Erase Board (for teacher use)

-Dry Erase Markers (for teacher use)

-Helpful Hints to Summarizing cards (one per student)

-Highlighters (at least one per student)

-National Geographic article called 'Honey Bee Mystery' (one copy of article per student)

-Graphic organizer for summarizing (one per student) This will have a few lines at the top asking for a topic sentence. Then it will have four boxes, that each ask for an important fact from the article (so students will need to pick four important facts that they feel are the most important. At the bottom there is a big box for the student's summary to be written in, using the important facts.

-Pencils (at least one per student, plus extra)

1. Explain why it is important, and review the background knowledge"Today we are going to learn how to remember what we read after we read something. It is very important to remember the information that you learn about when you are reading. We are going to work on remembering the information that we read, and telling this information to someone else. When we tell someone about a book that we read, do we tell every single thing that happens? (no). Of course not! That would take too long! We only tell that person a little bit about the story, using the important facts and ideas. Making a story shorter by only telling a little bit about it is called summarizing. When you read the back of a chapter book to find out what the book is about, you are reading a summary. See why summaries are so important?"

 2. Explain how to summarize/model it:  "In order to summarize something that you read, you need to be able to find the information that is important, and delete (get rid of) the information that is not as important to the topic." Put the facts about me on the board [(1) I love to read, (2) My favorite book is Officer Buckle and Gloria, (3) I love to go swimming, and (4) I read one hour a day] and tell them that the topic is "reading". "These are facts about me. If I asked you to summarize these facts, and only pick out what is important, you would first decide what the topic is: reading." Go through and talk about what topics are important to reading and which are not. They would decide that the fact that I love to go swimming is not important when they are telling someone about reading, regarding me. Allow the students to go over the facts that are important, and come up with a topic sentence if they were to summarize this information. This is simple practice for what they will do with their whole texts later.

 3. Continue explaining how: Pass out the Helpful Hints to Summarizing cards. Talk about the three helpful hints to look at before summarizing. Go over each helpful hint out loud so that each student understands what each step means.

*The three helpful hints:
-Delete information that is not important or repeated throughout the reading.
-Highlight the information that is important
-Find a topic sentence that covers the topic (main idea), and if there is not one, make one of your own.

 4. Simple practice with whole texts: Hand out the article the students are going to read, and eventually summarize for practice with teacher guidance. "We are going to read this article silently. Does anyone know what it means to read silently? Right, you read to yourself and you do not make any noise because you do not want to bother other people in your class that are also reading. You can sit wherever you want to in the class, so that you are comfortable when you are reading. You can use your highlighter to highlight the important information. Be sure to follow your three helpful hints to summarizing. When you think you are done, you can put your highlighters away, go back to your seat, and wait quietly for everyone else to finish." Give the "book-talk" for the article.

 *The "Book-talk": Bees are what we call "pollinators", which means that they enable the plants to produce the fruits and nuts that we eat by carrying pollen from one plant to another. Some plants are pollinated when pollen is carried by the wind, but for some we need the bees to do the pollinating. But, across the United States, honeybees are flying away from their hives and dying. Empty hives are causing a lot of worry about some of the important food crops that we depend on for a lot of food. Why are all of the bees flying away from their hives? What can we do about it? You have to read to find out!

 5. Now that everyone is back in their seats, go over summarizing this article on the dry erase board. Draw a circle on the board, to put the main idea in, then draw a line out of the circle for the important facts that the students find. When important facts are related to each other, draw the line out of the fact that it is related to, instead of having another line come out of the circle, regarding the same fact. This is like a web, for summarizing. "Who knows what the main idea, or topic, of this article is? Right, it's about the reasons why Honey Bees are dying, and people are finding empty nests." Put this in the middle of the circle. Then ask the class to name different important facts that they highlighted as they read. Before you write it on the board, around the circle, allow the class to agree or disagree as to whether or not this is important to the topic. This way, they are working together, but the teacher is guiding the lesson.

 6.  Assessment: Hand out the personal copies of the graphic organizer for summarizing. Go over each part of the graphic organizer so that all of the students know what they are supposed to be doing in order to complete the page. "As you are trying to complete this page, you can look at the information on the board that we all decided was important in this article. You will have to choose the four facts that you think are the most important, and write your topic sentence and summary based on those. People around you may pick different facts than you, so do not bother looking to see what other people are doing on their page." Allow the students' time to finish these summarizations. I will read through the facts they chose, and make sure that the topic sentence and summary reflect those facts, and only those facts. Then, I will make sure that they understand how to pick important information/facts and followed directions.

Clabby, Bridget

National Geographic -- "Honey Bee Mystery"

 Source of the graphic organizer idea: (page 8)

Return to Realizations Page