Take off Those Frills
Cuttheribbon

Reading to Learn

Emily Mills



Rationale:
Since comprehension—understanding what we're reading—is the goal of reading instruction, teachers should consider it vital to teach students the most effective strategies that foster and guide their comprehension. The Pressley article, "Strategies that Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of Text," cites research evidence that supports summarization as one of the most effective comprehension strategies. Two of the summarization rules cited in the article involve elimination of trivial or redundant information, so teaching elimination in summarizing is be a very useful strategy to teach students.

In this lesson, students will practice eliminating extraneous, unnecessary information from nonfiction texts while thinking through what is and isn't information that is important to a passage's meaning. Hopefully, this elimination technique will aid students in ignoring trivia and focusing on the main ideas of passages when they independently read assigned readings.

 

Materials:
1.
overhead sheet with the following excerpt from the Time Life for Kids "A Breathtaking Discovery" article.  "On Thursday, scientists in Indonesia announced the discovery of a rare frog that has no lungs and breathes through its skin. The remarkable find was revealed in the scientific journal Current Biology. Researchers believe that the little croaker could provide some big clues as to how environmental factors can cause certain species to evolve so drastically over time."
( http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/kids/news/story/0,28277,1730246,00.html)
2. student copies of "Mice with Tans? Eeeeeek!" article from the National Geographic Kids website (http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/AnimalsNature/Micetans).
3. p
encils (for each student)
4. overhead projector and markers
5. c
hecklists to access each student (Checks for: eliminating unnecessary information, keeping important information, replacing series of words with a general term)
 
 
Procedures:

1. Introduce the lesson by reminding students that, "When we summarize information, we help ourselves understand and remember (comprehend) what we read. Summarization is the process we go through to find the most important information in what we read. One step that will help us summarize is called elimination. Does anyone know what the root word, eliminate means? Right, it means to get rid of or remove. We are going to be reading some paragraphs and articles today, and we will learn how to remove unimportant information."

2. Explain to students, "The unimportant information is kind of like frills on a dress. Frills might make a dress look prettier, but it is still a dress without them. That's just like the way extra words, lots of adjectives and descriptive adverbs might make something more interesting to read, but they are not always absolutely necessary to a fact or main idea. When we eliminate—remove—these extra words, those frills, we can remember the important information much more easily!"

3. When we are summarizing we might want to replace a series of words with one general word. Take this sentence for example, "Tigers run, pounce, and stalk through the forest." (Teacher write the preceding sentence on the board.) That sentence has a compound predicate. How might we make that sentence more simple? Right, we could think of one verb that could replace those three verbs. Let's see... running, pouncing, and stalking are all ways that tigers move, so what word could we use to replace them? Good. We might remove the words run, pounce, and stalk from our sentence and replace them with the word travel.  Now our sentence says, "Tigers travel through the forest."  Isn't that second sentence much simpler?

4. Now that we've reviewed, let me show you how I would use elimination to take the frills out of a paragraph. (Teacher places the paragraph transparency onto the projector). First, I'm going to read the paragraph so that I know what it is about. Follow along with me as I read it aloud. (Teacher reads the article aloud to students). Hmm… Now that the whole gist of the article is still fresh in my memory, I'm going to start with the first sentence and take out words that aren't absolutely important. On Thursday, scientists in Indonesia announced the discovery of a rare frog that has no lungs and breathes through its skin. For this article, I don't have to know when it took place, so I'm going to mark out On Thursday. Do I need the word rare? Hmm… scientists are very excited about it and have just discovered it, so I can probably assume it is rare. Let's take the word rare out since we already can figure that part for ourselves. I can take out "announced the discovery of" and replace those words with "have discovered." Now my first sentence looks like this, Scientists in Indonesia have discovered a frog that has no lungs and breaths through its skin.

5. Let's look at the second sentence. The remarkable find was revealed in the scientific journal Current Biology. Does that sentence tell us anything more about the frog? Not really. Let's eliminate the whole sentence since we don't need to know who the scientists first told about the frog. (Teacher marks through the entire second sentence.) Okay, now we're at the third and final sentence in the paragraph. Researchers believe that the little croaker could provide some big clues as to how environmental factors can cause certain species to evolve so drastically over time. What is the little croaker? Oh! It's the frog! I'll eliminate little croaker and replace it with the word, frog.  Are the adjectives some and big necessary? Does the sentence make since and mean the same without them? Let's see. (Teacher reads sentence aloud without the words some and big). Yep, that still makes since and means the same! (Teacher marks out some and big). Hmm… is there anything else I can get rid of? Let's see if I can find any more frills. I might be able to eliminate the words so and drastically. Let's try it and see. (Teacher marks through so drastically and reads the resulting sentence aloud). Good! That didn't change the meaning and the sentence still makes since. Now the (former) paragraph looks like this, "Scientists in Indonesia have discovered a frog that has no lungs and breathes through its skin. Researchers believe that the frog could provide clues as to how environmental factors can cause certain species to evolve over time."

6. Now we will use the elimination technique together. (Teacher passes out copies of "Mice with Tans, Eeeeeek!".)  This article tells us about the way scientists figured out how to give mice a sun tan! Let's see how they did it! The teacher encourages students to look over their articles and eliminate any words in the first paragraph that are not necessary to the passage's meaning. The teacher will walk around the room, monitoring students and providing helpful guidance. After students have had time to read and eliminate, the teacher will have students volunteer what eliminations might be made from the first paragraph. Students will also be asked if the words they chose to eliminate are necessary to the passage's meaning. Finally, students will be asked to explain their reasons for their eliminations.

7. After the students have completed the guided practice and the teacher has eliminated student misconceptions, the teacher will tell students, "Now, you are to go through the rest of the 'Mice with Tans' article and use the elimination and substitution techniques that you've practiced today. Remember to only eliminate information that isn't necessary for the meaning of the article. Also remember to try to replace any series of words with a more general term. (Like what we did with the tiger sentence earlier). When you eliminate something, draw a line straight through it like I did on the board. If you are replacing it with another term, write that in up above. If you need any help, raise your hand. When you are finished, turn your paper in to me, and I will check your work."
 

Assessment:

The teacher will use a checklist to evaluate each student's summarization work. Work will be check to see if: 1) All eliminated words were unnecessary [ex. A student would eliminate a word like "Thursday" but not "frog."]   2) Only the most important information was kept  3) Students substituted series or repeated words with a more general term.   [ex. The list, frogs, newts, and toads could be replaced with the general term, amphibians.]

 

Reference:

 

Sparkman, Rachael K. Summarize This! http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/encounters/sparkmanrl.html

 


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