“Let’s Sum It Up!”

 Reading to Learn

 By: Elizabeth Earnest

 

Rationale:

For students to be able to read for information and read to learn, they must be able to summarize large bodies of text. Students have to learn to distinguish between trivial and important information to summarize a text. This lesson will teach students how and when to use the summarization strategy. Students will listen and watch as the teacher explains and models the strategy. Then, they will practice summarization through guided practice, and, finally, summarize a text independently and answer several comprehension questions about what they have read.

 

Materials:

If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America by Anne Kamma; document camera; marker (1); copies of pages 58-62 from If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America (one per student); copy of assessment passage on page 63 from If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America (one per student); assessment checklist (one per student); pencils

 

Procedures:

1) Explain to students why strategy is valuable:

Say:  Sometimes, when we are reading a book that explains a topic instead of telling a story, there can be so much information that it can overwhelm us! When this happens, we can use a great strategy called summarization. When we summarize, we pick out the most important details or parts of a text. This helps us get rid of extra information that does not really help us understand what the text is about.

 

2) Review or teach background knowledge:

Say: There is new vocabulary in the book we are going to read today. Let’s take a look at the new words we will see when we are reading. Our new words are criminal, capturing, slave hunters, and abolish. Let’s start with the new word criminal. A criminal is someone who does not follow the law. Criminals are rule-breakers who have to be punished and are often arrested for the crime they committed. A criminal is usually not a good person. Which of these people is more like a criminal: someone who gives the store clerk money for a candy bar or someone who puts a candy bar in his or her pocket and just leaves without paying? Someone who litters by throwing trash on the side of the road or someone who volunteers their time on the weekends, picking up trash from the side of the road? Try to finish this sentence: The criminal was punished because he/she… (Possible Completion: stole money that was not his/hers from a lady’s wallet.)

 

3) Explain how to use new concept or strategy:

Say: When we summarize a passage, we start by reading a little portion of the text at a time, such as a paragraph or a page, and stop. Then, we look back at the text we have read to determine what pieces of information are most important to the passage. We will take out any information that is not valuable to the main idea. This will help us to see what is most important in a large passage of text. We have to be very picky when we choose the important information from the text so that we can sum it all up!  

 

4) Model the new concept or strategy:

Say: Let’s see how I summarize a paragraph. Listen and watch carefully while I show you. I only want to know the most important details from this paragraph, so I am going to read the whole paragraph first.  Was it dangerous to run away? It was very dangerous. Slaves who were caught were beaten badly, or even killed. Owners paid big rewards for capturing runaways, so slave hunters were everywhere (page 57). 

Say: Okay, that paragraph gave us a lot of information.  Now, let’s go back and underline only the most important details, ones that are necessary to understand the main idea of the paragraph.  I just want to know who or what the paragraph is about and why that information is important for me to know.  The paragraph mentions slaves, so it must be about a time when there was slavery. That seems important to know. Was it dangerous to run away? It was very dangerous. Slaves who were caught were beaten badly, or even killed. Owners paid big rewards for capturing runaways, so slave hunters were everywhere. What did the paragraph tell us about slaves? It says that running away was very dangerous for slaves.

Say: Does everyone see how all of the words in the paragraph are not necessary for us to know what the passage is about? Some words and sentences do not need to be included in the summary because they are not the most important pieces of information in the text. What is important is: Runaway slaves were in danger of being beaten, or even killed, and large rewards were offered for their capture. That is our summary.

 

5) Simple practice under teacher guidance:

Say:  Now that we have seen how summarization works, let’s focus on summarizing a passage together. Owners put out ads describing what runaways looked like. So some slaves wore disguises, like false mustaches. Men dressed like women, and women like men. One girl was only fifteen when she escaped dressed as a boy. Her disguise was so good that even people helping her thought she was a boy (page 58).

Say: Let’s work together to pick out what is most important from this paragraph so that we can sum it up. Remember, we need to know what the passage is about and why it’s important. We will underline the most important parts again. Owners put out ads describing what runaways looked like. So some slaves wore disguises, like false mustaches. Men dressed like women, and women like men. One girl was only fifteen when she escaped dressed as a boy. Her disguise was so good that even people helping her thought she was a boy.

Say: Now we will put together the important pieces of information that we underlined and create our summary—Runaway slaves were forced to wear disguises because their owners released ads describing what the runaways looked like. Our summary gives us the main idea of the passage without adding all of the “fluff,” or unnecessary details.

 

6) Whole text:

Say: We are going to continue to practice summing it up today. We will make sure that our summaries only include the most important pieces of information from the text. We will continue reading where we left off in If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America by Anne Kamma about the different ways that slaves discovered to escape. We will also discover what happened to slavery after the Civil War.

Say: Now I want you to read pages 58-62 and write a one sentence summary for each paragraph. Who wanted to end slavery? How did slaves escape to freedom? What happened during the Civil War? Be sure to focus on the most important ideas and not the trivial information, like examples, opinions, very detailed explanations, or extra adjectives.

 

Assessment

Say: I will call each of you up to my desk one-by-one to read and summarize another passage from the text and answer a few questions about what you just read. Have students read and summarize page 63, using the summarization checklist (below).

 

Ask comprehension questions: When did the Civil War end? What was the 13th Amendment? Where had slavery ended?

 

Summarization Checklist:

When summarizing, did the student…

Yes

No

Delete unimportant information?

 

 

Delete repeated information?

 

 

Organize items with a big idea?

 

 

Select a topic?

 

 

Write an inclusive, simple topic sentence to summarize the passage?

 

 

 

*References:

 Steeb, Caitlin. Short and Sweet Summarization. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/awakenings/steebcrl.htm

 Kamma, Anne. If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America. New York, NY: Scholastic, 2004. Print.

 Image: http://bugleboypublishing.com/2013/02/23/3-ways-bud-and-roo-will-help-your-child-learn-how-to-read-almost-instantly/

 

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