Reading to Learn

Tawana Fuller


Rationale: As students become more fluent in their reading, they are able to comprehend more of the text and gain an overall meaning of the text. Summarization is a great way to assess students' comprehension. This lesson will teach children how to summarize by deleting insignificant and redundant information and to find or create a topic sentence that highlights the main ideas of the story.

Materials: One copy per student of Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #15 : Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters  By: Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce that students will be able to mark on with pencil (copies may be needed), paper/pencil for students to write summaries,  bookmarks with 5 steps printed on them.


1. "Today, we are going to begin discussing how to use reading in order to learn new information. The strategy we will be using is called summarization. This is an important step because now you can use what you've learned about reading to learn and remember new facts and ideas. With this summarization strategy, you will read longer paragraphs and learn how to pick out the most important information from the text to store in your memory." Remember to use crosschecking while reading new words.

2. "There are five main steps that we are going to talk about today that will help us remember our new strategy of summarization."  [Write steps on board for students to see]

5 Steps to Summarization:

1. Pick out important details that are necessary to the story.

2. Point out and remove less important details.

3. Choose keywords to help remember the important details.

4. Put keywords in order of when they occurred in the story.

5. Put all important details and keywords into one main topic sentence.

3. Explain each step of process to students to ensure they know what each step states. After reading a passage we must first delete any information that is not important or that is repeated. Secondly we have to identify important information and details that will help us to form a main idea or topic sentence. A topic sentence is the same thing as the main idea. Let's look together at the first paragraph of Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters that is in front of each of you. "On December 26, 2004, Tilly Smith, a schoolgirl from England, was on vacation with her family. They were visiting an island off the coast of Thailand. The day was bright and sunny as Tilly and her family walked along the beach. The ocean appeared calm and clear." Do you see any information in that sentence is that is not very important to the main idea? "The ocean appeared calm and clear" is not really that important, so let's mark it out (mark these out). What about details that seem important? "Tilly Smith was on vacation with her family" is important, so let's highlight it (highlight or circle these details). Now let's try and find or form a summarizing main idea about what we have just read. "Tilly Smith was on vacation with her family in Thailand and they decided to go for a walk on the beach." This is the main idea of the first paragraph."  Throughout the process encourage students that there is not a right or wrong answer that we should work as a team as we try to summarize stories together. "If I were to keep trivial information such as, 'the ocean appeared calm and clear,' that would just be extra information in the summary that is not necessary but it doesn't necessarily mean I was wrong.

4. We just went through the 5 steps of summarization together in order to summarize that first bit of information. At your seats I want you to read through the next 2 chapters silently. Make sure that when you are reading the story, it makes sense to you. Do not be afraid to stop at the end of paragraphs, pages, or even sentences and think about what you have just read. If it does not make sense, go back and read it again before you move on. While reading these chapters, use your pencil and list to delete unimportant and repeated information, circle important details, and underline or write your own topic sentence.

5. When you have finished reading the chapters silently at your seat I would like for you to try to summarize them in your own words. Remember what we have talked about and if you have trouble you can look at the 5 steps on your book mark I have handed out to you.

6. For assessment, the teacher will read each student's summary. Using the 5 steps bookmark/checklist the teacher will assess if the students have summarized the passages correctly and have extra practice with the students whose summaries are not correct or have too much trivial information.


Osborne, Mary Pope., Natalie Pope. Boyce, and Sal Murdocca. Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters. New York: Random House, 2007. Print.

Goodson, Kristen.

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