Reading to Learn Design


Reading to Learn

By. Sophie Simantel


Rationale:  The reason we read is to learn or comprehend new information. Comprehension shows that the student has understood the material and information read. Summarization is one of the key strategies for reading to learn. When students summarize they identify main ideas and highlight important facts throughout the reading. Summarization condenses the material which makes it easier to find the main idea. In this lesson students will learn and practice the skills to summarize a passage. Students will use the following summarization rules: choose a topic sentence, cross out unimportant details or repeated ideas, and highlight important ideas to put into one sentence.




Copy of both articles for each student and teacher


Smart board/ white board and markers / overhead projector

Print checklist for each student



  1. Say: "We read to gain information to make us smarter! In order to do this we have to remember what we read. A good way to recall information is to pick out the important parts.  What is it called when you pick out big ideas and important points in something you read?  That's right, summarizing!  When you summarize something you find what's important." 


  2. Say: "When you read, sometimes authors add extra information that is not very important to know.  They may also repeat information.  A good way to remember key ideas is to highlight or underline the important information. We will use the following summarization rules: choose a topic sentence, cross out unimportant details or repeated ideas, and highlight important ideas to put into one sentence.”


  3. Say: “Now let’s take out the articles I handed out. Have you ever wondered how big volcanoes could explode?! Or what is it that comes out of volcanoes?  Well let’s find out! Read over the article (give time to read) We are going to practice summarizing on this article, and I am going to model how it should be done.” ( Pass out highlighters and use the smart board or overhead projector to show the article) “Look at this section of the article (show on the smart board or overhead) Volcanoes erupt in different ways. Some, like Mount St. Helens, explode. Explosive eruptions are so powerful, they can shoot particles 20 miles up (32 kilometers), hurl 8-ton boulders more than a half mile (0.8 kilometers) away, and cause massive landslides. Explosive eruptions also create an avalanche of hot volcanic debris, ash, and gas that bulldozes everything in its path. Explosive volcanoes cause most of the volcano-related fatalities.

    First, I am going to cross out unimportant details. (model) See how I crossed out or eliminated words that were unimportant? This makes it easier to create a topic sentence. Next, I am going to highlight important facts for my sentence. (model)  This makes it easier to see and pick out. Lastly, we can group similar phrases or ideas into one sentence. This would be my topic sentence: Volcanoes erupt in different ways such as an explosion that creates an avalanche of debris causing most of the volcano-related fatalities. See how the sentence covers all the main ideas and leaves out the details? That is summarizing!  Now we are going to go over some important vocab!(go over vocab review)


  4. (pass out the assessment article with comprehension questions) Say:  “Why would scientist dress up in costumes? Is it for Halloween? Let’s read this article to find out. It’s your turn to practice! I want you to use this article to use the rules of summarization. Be sure to show mark outs and highlighted areas. Then write a brief summary about the article with a topic sentence and answer the comprehension questions.” (give time to complete then take up the article and summaries)


Vocab Review:  Let’s look at what the word avalanche means. An avalanche is a sudden arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities. An avalanche isn’t a slow moving rain fall or wind storm:  It is an avalanche of hot gas, ash, steam and rocks from a volcano.


Which of these would resemble an avalanche?  A table full or candy or a piñata being busted open full of candy?  A mudslide or a mud puddle?   


Finish the Sentence: The avalanche looked like….


Vocab List: avalanche, eruption, effusive, contaminates, fatalities


Assessment:  Students will read the new article and use their highlighters and pencils to practice the summarizing strategies. They will then write a summary of the article and answer the comprehension questions on a sheet of lined paper. Each student will turn in their article and summary stapled together. (teacher will look over each and use the checklist attached to asses) 

Comprehension Questions:  Why are scientists now dressing up as the animals they are observing? What is one way some scientists avoid danger of dressing up? Does dressing up like the animals seem effective? Explain. 


Assessment Article: De Seve, Karen. Scientists in Costume. Updated Nov. 11, 2014. 

Practice Article:  Musgrave, Ruth. Volcanoes. Updated Oct. 29, 2014.

Murray, Bruce. The Reading Genie Website.

Remember, Remember by Lindsey Goodwyn. 2009



In his/her summary, did the student….



Did the student pick out the most important information?



Did the student delete unnecessary information?



Did the student fully understand the information from the article?



Did the student write a strong topic sentence?



Did the student write strong sentences summarizing the important part of the text?




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