Notes to Nutshells

Reading to Learn

Haley Wilson

Rationale: Reading is an important part of students learning new information. Having the ability to summarize is an essential part of learning from a text. The skill of determining which parts of a text are important and which parts are not helps students to learn information from what they read. In this lesson, I will teach students how to summarize by teaching summarization, modeling summarization, having a guided practice, and then individual summarization of texts followed by comprehension questions.

 

Materials:

-copies of the article Why do Squirrels Have Bushy Tails? published by Discovery Kids (1 per child + 1 for teacher)

-assessment checklist for each student

-pencils

 

Procedures:

1. Introduction- Explain why the strategy of summarizing is important. Say: "Summarizing means picking the most important parts of a text. It is important when you are reading a long book or article that explains something. When there are a lot of words, it can be too much to remember, but summarizing makes understanding a text easier to remember and less confusing. It will help us to know the most important parts of the text and help us to forget about the parts that don’t matter."

 

2. Background Knowledge- Say: "Before we read our article, we need to talk about a few words that might be new. The two words are appendage and aggressive. Appendage means something that is attached to something bigger or more important. Our arms and legs are appendages. Which would be an appendage? A tree trunk or a leaf? That’s right, a leaf would be an appendage! Now finish the sentence: An example of a dog’s appendage would be . . . (possible answers: leg, tail, ear, etc.)The second word we are going to learn is aggressive. Aggressive means ready or about to attack. If a bear sees me, they will probably be aggressive! Which would be an example of aggressive: A mad dog about to bite or a kitten wanting to play? That’s right, a dog about to bite! Now finish the sentence: That animal looks aggressive! I think it is about to . . . (possible answers: bite, jump, growl, sting, etc.)"

3. How to Use the Strategy- Say: "When we want to summarize a text, we just read a little bit at a time, like a paragraph or a page. After we have finished reading that part, we look back at it and figure out the most important parts and take away the information that is not important to the message. We must be picky when choosing the important information! Summarizing helps us to understand the important parts of a long text."

 

4. Model the Strategy- Say: "Now I am going to summarize the first part of the article, Why do Squirrels Have Bushy Tails? The first paragraph is long, so I’m going to split into two parts, the first 4 sentences, and the last 5 sentences. First I will read all four sentences. When we see squirrels, we often notice their big, bushy tails first. And that's no surprise--this body part can be nearly as big as the critter it's attached to. But the tail is certainly not just there for decoration. Like a tightrope walker holding onto a long pole for balance, the squirrel uses its tail to keep itself steady as it leaps across treetops or does a high-wire act on telephone lines. This gives us some good information! First I’m going to underline the important parts. This paragraph is about squirrels and their tails, so that’s important, we need to find out more about that. I’m also going to cross out parts that don’t matter. When we see squirrels, we often notice their big, bushy tails first. And that's no surprise--this body part can be nearly as big as the critter it's attached to. But the tail is certainly not just there for decoration. Like a tightrope walker holding onto a long pole for balance, the squirrel uses its tail to keep itself steady as it leaps across treetops or does a high-wire act on telephone lines. So now what do I know about squirrel’s tails? They are bush, and they are used to keep steady. My summary is: Squirrels have bushy tails to keep themselves steady."

 

5. Simple Guided Practice- Say: "Now that we know more about how to summarize, let’s summarize the second part of the paragraph together. A squirrel's tale is also told through its tail. That's because this animal acrobat uses this appendage to communicate with other squirrels. You'll often see its unique body language at work in the woods or right in your backyard. When a squirrel is alarmed, it flicks its tail; when it's feeling aggressive, it fluffs it up. During its breeding season, a squirrel will wave and shiver its tail while approaching the opposite sex. Let’s underline the important parts, and cross out what is not important now. A squirrel's tale is also told through its tail. That's because this animal acrobat uses this appendage to communicate with other squirrels. You'll often see its unique body language at work in the woods or right in your backyard. When a squirrel is alarmed, it flicks its tail; when it's feeling aggressive, it fluffs it up. During its breeding season, a squirrel will wave and shiver its tail while approaching the opposite sex. Now we can put together the important parts to make our summary. A squirrel uses its tail to communicate, flicking it when alarmed, fluffing it when aggressive, and shivering it to breed. This summary gives us the main ideas and gets rid of parts that are not important."

 

6. Whole Text Practice- Say: "Now we are going to keep working on summarizing. I want you to read the last paragraph and underline what is important and cross out parts that do not matter, and then write finish this summary sentence: Squirrels use their tails for ______________________________________________________."

 

7. Assessment- Say: "When you have finished, I will call you up to make your summary sentence and answer a few questions." I will assess answers for comprehension questions and use the following rubric to determine the student’s summarization process.

 

Comprehension questions: What is one use for the squirrel’s tail in the winter? What is a use for the squirrel’s tail in the summer? How does the squirrel stay cool in the summer?

 

When summarizing, did the student . . .

YES

NO

Underline important information?

 

 

Cross out unimportant information?

 

 

Find the main idea or topic?

 

 

Write a sentence summarizing the important parts of the paragraph?

 

 

 

 

References:

Langhout, Grace. Super Fun Summarization    http://www.auburn.edu/~gel0001/langhoutrl.htm

Why do Squirrel’s Have Bushy Tails? Discovery Kids. http://kids.discovery.com/tell-me/animals/mammals/why-do-squirrels-have-bushy-tails

 

 

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