Summarize!

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Reading to Learn

By: Caroline Trefethen

Rationale:  How to teach children a tactic that will aid in their comprehension in reading.  In order to boost comprehension, children must be able to focus on the main ideas of the story.  Summarizing is a strategy that students can use to strengthen their comprehension.  Teaching summarization is needed to help children read and recall information.  Children need to be taught how to shorten the information given in a book.  They need to learn how to use a series of events for an action word to create a topic sentence.  If children use these summarizing skills they will be well on their way to becoming better readers!

Materials:  paper, pencils, chart paper, 12" x 12" squares of poster board, markers, copies of "Freaky Frogs" article from National Geographic Kids for each student, individual checklists with the following instructions:
1. Delete unimportant information.
2. Delete repeated information.
3. Substitute easy words for lists of items.
4. Add a series of events with an easy action term.
5. Select a topic.
6. Invent a topic sentence if there is not one

Procedures:

1.  Begin the lesson by discussing what summarizing is and why it is so important to the reading.  "Can anyone tell me what the word summarize means?  The word summarize means to take out the main points in a passage and put them together to create a summary.  A summary is a description of the main points in the story.  Can anyone give me an example of a summary?  Have you ever summarized before?  We are going to learn more about summarizing today in class.

2.  "Part of summarizing is reading alone, and quietly ask yourselves questions about what we are reading as we read.  We are going to read an article about frogs.  Once you have finished reading the article we will practice summarizing and find the main points of our article.  Remember, we are reading to ourselves, so I shouldn't hear any talking."

3.  "Now that you have read the article and you know what summarizing means we will learn the six steps of summarizing."  (Record on chart paper).

1. Delete unimportant information.
2. Delete repeated information.
3. Substitute easy words for lists of items.
4. Add a series of events with an easy action term.
5. Select a topic.
6. Invent a topic sentence if there is not one.

"It is important to delete unimportant information that we may be unnecessary in the reading.  This will help us to focus on the main points of the article.  Deleting repeated information is important because it rids the story selection of extra information that we already know.  When we substitute easy words for lists of items we are able to shorten the amount of information we have to remember.  For example, we may want to remember a list such as dolphins, fish, sharks, and jelly fish.  We may want to simplify this list by calling it Ocean Animals.  We can place each of these animals under the topic of Ocean Animals to help us remember them.  We can add a series of events with an action term to help us remember a story as well.  Then we can select a topic of the events in our story and form a topic sentence that describes the story we have read."

4.  "Let's talk about what you read in the article together.  I am going to draw a web on the chart paper. 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?  (the middle) Very good!  What should I put in the middle of the web?  (frogs)  Very nice!  Who can give me a main point from the article on frogs?  Call upon the students and record their comments on the web.  Explain that we should be able to create a paragraph that summarizes the whole article.  You can use the web to help you make your summary by using some of the facts that have been listing.  Each section on our web can be used to make a sentence to help make a short paragraph."

5.  Now I will have the children work in groups of 2.  Pass out the poster board squares, individual checklists, and markers to each pair of students.  "A wonderful way to help us learn to summarize is by making a web just like the one we did together.  Can anyone tell me how to begin the web?  Great!  We place the topic of the article in the center of our posters.  Then we write facts or pieces of information out to the side.  Use your checklist to make sure you have used the six steps for summarizing.  Good luck!  I will be walking around to help if you need me!"

6. Assessment:  In order to assess the children's understanding of the topic I will monitor the room as they work together on the web.  I will compare their checklists with their webs.  I will ask the students questions also about the story in order to make sure that the students comprehend what they are reading. Then they will individually write a brief summary paragraph based on their web from the article.  Make sure they actually eliminated unimportant information if they checked it off on their list.

References:

National Geographic Article: http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/0403/articles/mainarticle.html

Lunceford, Valerie http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/guides/luncefordrl.html