Summarizing is the key to Success!

By: Caroline Duffy

Rationale: The overall goal of this lesson is for students to learn new information from what they are reading.  In order for this to happen students must interpret text through a series of processes.  In this lesson, the students will focus on learning how to summarize a piece of text.  The students will accomplish the goal of the lesson through breaking down summarization into different steps.  The students will also experience learning through teacher modeling and student practice.  Furthermore, the students will participate in a vocabulary review that will help them to learn how to identify difficult words and be prepared for the reading.  Lastly, they will answer good questions about the text that will help them in their overall goal of learning from reading.  Their understanding of the lesson will be assessed through an activity to be completed individually.  The activity will allow the teacher to assess the students level of understanding to complete each of the summarization rules for a piece of text and answer comprehension questions corresponding with the text.

Materials: Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business (enough copies for the entire class), paper and pencils (for every student in the class), whiteboard, dry erase marker, a typed up copy of the assessment assignment and questions (enough for every student in the class),  and A copy of Making Sight Words as a reference for the teacher (optional).



1.      Say: The goal of reading is to get the messages encoded in texts, enjoy them, learn from them and assess their importance.  In order to learn from what you read you must know how to mentally complete several processes.  In today’s lesson, we are going to accomplish learning to successfully summarize a piece of text.  In order to successfully summarize a text there are several rules you must follow.

2.      Say: In order to summarize a piece of text first must have a text to summarize.  Today, we will be working together to summarize chapter 1 out of the book Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business, by Barbara Park.

3.      Say: Before we begin the reading we will have a vocabulary review.  This review will prepare you to better understand the reading and make your ability to summarize stronger.  Also, this vocabulary review will help you to learn how to better identify, use, and commit to memory challenging words.

4.      Next, write the vocabulary words on the board in a horizontal line.  The vocabulary words for this lesson are apology, freshener, present and surprise.  Make sure there are spaces between each word and room to write under each word.  It may be easiest to create a box to avoid confusion for the students.  Also, under each word write locate, relate, extricate, and generate.  You will also want to leave room between these words so that you can write by each step. Number the steps in order from 1-4.  Now begin the vocabulary review by modeling all of the steps for the word apology.  As each step is explained write out what you come up with for each one with the corresponding term.

5.      Say: When you want to learn more information about a challenging word there are four steps you can follow that will help you to better understand the word and commit it to your long term memory. This review can take place before or after a reading.  Today, it is going to take place before so that our understanding of the reading can be as successful as possible.  However, when doing a review on your own it will most likely be more beneficial after the reading.   Our first word is apology.  First, I am going to locate the word.  This means I am going to find an example of the word that means the same thing; My friend said she was sorry for stepping on my foot.  In this sentence I used the word sorry as an example for apology.  Next, I am going to relate the word to other words that are similar in meaning, which for this term I can relate it to the words excuse, justify, and sorry.  Now, that I know apology can be used as saying sorry to someone for what you did I am going to use it in another context to know that I have a good understanding of the word. In his speech he used an apology to defend his story.  Finally, I am going to test myself on my understanding of the word by using it in a new sentence.  I gave an apology to my friends for being late to dinner because they had on wait on me.

6.      Say: Now that you have an understanding of how to learn vocabulary words we are going to do the next two words together.  During this portion of the lesson ask the students for answers for each step of the process.  If they are not able to give you accurate answers then make sure to model how to find them.  After working together for the words freshener and present tell the students that they are to complete the same process on their own for the word surprise. While the students are working walk around the room to see how they are doing and answer any questions they may have.  When they are finished review each step for the word surprise as a whole group. 

7.      Say: For the next part of the lesson we are going to read chapter one of Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business.  Before beginning to read the story give the students a brief overview of what the story is about.  This is similar to a book talk but on a more board scale.  Tell the students that we will be reading about a Junie B. Jones adventure.  In this story, Junie B. learns that she will be having a new sibling.  Throughout the story, you will see what Junie B. endures as she awaits for the arrival of her new sibling.  The teacher will read the story aloud to the students.  As the story is being read the teacher will ask students questions that will activate background knowledge, integrate different ideas, and capture large blocks of information. It is important to read the passage prior to the lesson so you can prepare the questions you want to ask your students.  She will model reading fluently and with expression.  Tell the students that during the reading they need to be focusing on the content of the story because it will help them in completing the steps of summarization.  Then, explain to them that listening to the content will help them to comprehend the text.  Paying close attention to the content will allow for successful reading comprehension, which will allow the students to understand what is happening in the text so that they can complete the steps of summarization.  These steps include deleting unimportant information, generalizing terms, and creating a sentence that sums up the main idea.

8.      Say: Now that we have a piece of text to summarize we are going to learn about the steps we have to follow.  Summarization can be broken down into three smaller steps.   Once all the steps have been completed we will have a clear understanding of what happened in the chapter and a topic sentence that captures all the main ideas of the selected text.

9.      Say: The first step in summarization is clearing away the trivial and redundant information that is not worth remembering. Looking back in the text and noting important information and ideas from each page can complete this step.  Tell the students to look at chapter one from their copy of the book.  Ask the students to raise their hands to share ideas and important information from the story.  Once the students have volunteered answers go through each one.  Before moving on to the next step make sure the following ideas are present: Junie B.’s parents have a surprise for her, she thinks the surprise is a present, she learns that the surprise is that she is going to have a sibling, she is upset by the news, and she makes a compromise over air freshener.  If there is extra information given by the students you can scaffold the students by asking them questions about whether this information is actually valuable to the summary.  If they say yes, ask them to tell you how.  Also, if the students are not providing good important information you can scaffold their thinking with good questions.  You may ask: What was Junie B’s surprise? How did Junie B. react to her surprise? How do you think Junie B. was feeling about the surprise by the end of the chapter?  Once the students have established the important ideas and removed trivial information move on to the next step.

10.  Say: The second step in summarization is finding umbrella terms that cover multiple items or events.  For example animals would be an umbrella term for dog, cat, and horse.  Now ask the students to look back at the main ideas they have established and see if they can come up with any umbrella terms to make the main ideas more compact.  Write down all of the examples that the students give.  Once all student answers have been volunteered review each one with the class to see if it fits or not.  Before moving onto the next step make sure the following terms are covered: siblings for brother and sister, surprise for present and baby on the way.  With this particular text this step may not have a lot of umbrella terms.  This is okay because the students will still be able to make a successful summary of the text.  If the students have a hard time coming up with umbrella terms you may scaffold their thinking by asking them questions similar to the following: Is there a way to break down brother and sister so that it is only one word? What do you think about the word surprise? Could that be an umbrella word in itself? If yes, how?

11.   Say: The final step in summarizing a piece of information is creating a topic sentence that covers all the main ideas of the text in a few words.  In order to do this we can use the main ideas and umbrella terms that we have identified to complete this step.  Before creating the sentence explain a good strategy for creating topic sentences.  Tell them that the best way to make a sentence is to first write down the topic to be used as the subject.  Then create a predicate that captures all of the main ideas we have established. Now give them an example that they will be able to understand. For example if we read a text about all the different animals and what noises they make I could create the following topic sentence: All animals make noises that are unique to their individual animal type.  At this point, you can break the class into groups. If they are in tables working with their table will be the easiest.  Have each group come up with their own topic sentence about the chapter.  Have all groups share their sentence with the class.  After analyzing each group work as a class to use parts of each sentence to make up the ultimate topic sentence.  The final product of this step will allow understanding of the overall gist of this piece of text.  Also, if this is done with each chapter you it will give you an understandable complete summary of the entire text, which is helpful in learning from reading.

12.  The last part of this lesson will assess their understanding of the content and their ability to apply all the steps discussed to learn from what they read.  Since the lesson is a bit long if there is not enough time to complete the activity in class the students may complete it at another part of the day or that night for homework and then turn it in the next day. The students will read chapter two in their copy of the book.  Then, we will be asked to follow each summarization step so that they are able to create a concrete topic sentence for chapter two of the text.  For the activity, each step in the summarization process must be documented. Also, the students must answer the  following questions: What was Junie B.'s surprise? At first, how does Junie B. feel about her surprise? After chapter two how does Junie B. feel about her surprise?  Can you relate what Junie B. is going through to something in your life? How?   The teacher will collect the activity from each student to assess their understanding of summarization, story comprehension and to see if they were able to accomplish the overall goal of learning from their reading. 

The below table can be used to assess the students assessment activity.

Rubric Checklist

Summarization Rules: There is no attempt made at completing the step The student attempted to follow the step but the information is incorrect The student understands the rule and the text but the answer is not concrete The student successfully completed the rule and it is evident they have a concrete understanding applying the text to the rule
1. Deleting trivial text        
2. Categorizing related words into umbrella terms        
3. Main idea sentence        
Comprehension Questions: There is no attempt made at answering the question The student answers the questions but it is incorrect; it is clear the student did not comprehend the text The student correctly answered the question but there could be more depth to the answer The student correctly and thoroughly answered all parts of the question
1. What was Junie B.'s surprise        
2. At first, how does Junie B. feel about her surprise?        
3. After chapter 2 how does Junie B. feel about her surprise?        
4. Can you relate what Junie. B is going through to an event in your life? How?        


Murray, Bruce. Making Sight Words. Linus Publications. Ronkonkoma, NY 2012. Pg. 193-212.

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