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How to best teach summary comprehension


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Joined: Oct 03, 2005
Posts: 7
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Posted Oct 25, 2005 at 3:42:01 PM
Subject: How to best teach summary comprehension

I’m struggling with teaching summary. For example, there is a passage and several comprehension questions that follow the passage like:

Which is the most important idea to include in a summary of the last paragraph?
Which is the most important to include in a summary of the last paragraph?
Which sentence is the best summary of the first paragraph of this passage?

Background:

I have been working on teaching an anchor lesson as recommended in the book Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey. (page 35) I have had great success with this with most of the other dozen or so types of comprehension questions that are tested like Author’s Purpose, Figurative Language, Inference etc… I come up with a visual anchor lesson as recommended. I am loving how the kids do remember these well into the year (grades 4-6.) I am working in an inclusion setting where I do one lesson or so per week. I have my LD students getting these comprehension lessons in the general ed setting.

Here’s where I’m stuck. I need a visual anchorlesson as my intro lesson for teaching SUMMARY comprehension.

My idea is to have a strainer (colander) with some of the big ideas written on paper keys. I thought I might write some story elements on the keys, characters, plot, setting, and resolution. I was going to read them the story Stone Soup. Then take a can of chicken soup and put it through the strainer. Then I was going to explain that the main things are caught and the detail flow through. I am then going to have them cut out a strainer shape using perforated shelf lining paper that is spongy and has holes. I’m going to have them glue the keys with some main ideas on the keys. The details will be glued on the bottom.

In your experience how are most of these test questions written? This is by far the hardest concept I have had to teach. I really don’t know how best to teach this explicitly. Do I say that when answering these kinds of questions, to look for the answer that contains most of the story elements, or……pick the answer that goes over the plot? Or what………….. I really need direction and you all seem to have a great deal of good advice on these kinds of things.

I appreciate any insight into helping me teach this concept. I’m a bit confused myself. I know that summary can include major points of the story but how do I explain this…. using story elements, key ideas, etc.. ???
Or does someone have a better anchor lesson?

Michelle AZ

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Sue
Joined Jun 14, 2003
Posts: 1845

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Posted:Oct 27, 2005 10:46:03 AM

It sounds like you're looking for that elusive "main idea." I love the strainer idea!

Not sure this will help but ...

When I'm teaching somebody to ferret out a "summarizing" sentence isntead of a detail, I lean towards the "contains most of the elements" sort of in reverse. So, if I think this passage or paragraph's summary would be that "the explosion of the Hindenberg was a terrible tragedy," I'd look over each paragraph (or sentence) to see if most of them are about the terrible tragedy of the Hindenberg. If the passage went off on a tangent (maybe introduced it as a terrible tragedy and then went on to explain its effect on the history of dirigibles), then those subsequent sentences aren't going ot be saying anything about the "terrible tragedy" so it fails that test.

Sue J, webmastress www.resourceroom.net

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MIchelle AZ
Joined Sep 11, 2003
Posts: 53

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Posted:Nov 01, 2005 9:55:45 PM

Thanks, Sue.

Today I did the lesson in two classrooms. It worked. Today was the intro lesson and more work needs to be done but.....at the end of the lesson the students could verbalize how to summarize.

I talked about Summary and what it means.

I checked out a story about Froggy Goes Swimming or something like that and then a Non-Fiction book on Frogs.

I checked several more Story books vs Non-Fiction books on other topics like money etc..

I reviewed with them that there are stories with the character elements like we did in an earlier lesson with a string and beads w/ knots for each story element like conflict, climax, resultion etc..

Then I talked to them about information books are NOn-fiction that are fact filled. Both of my examples had the same theme and I had them sort them. Volunteers came up and placed the book under my correct heading where I prepared my visuals.

I blew up some posters of passage type worksheets and comprehension questions from STARS/ CARS by Curriculum Associates. I explained that at the end of passages there are comprehension questions. Today we are going to go over SUUMARY comprehension questions.

I read the book Stone Soup.

I had the other teacher dictate student generated facts/ and key ideas from the story.

We put them up to sort between important parts vs, details.


I took the colondar/strainer and put the soup through the strainer. The kids loved it even though it smelled gross.

We sifted out the big parts of the soup.

I then had a visual on the board of the spongy shelf liner.

I then had mini- paper keys. We put the elements on the keys. We got the kids to get about 5 sentences from the generated list.

The students made their own page to go into their State Standard book that has a anchor lesson mnemonic or manipulative to aid in long term memory retrieval.

They each got their own mini-strainer, colonder and mini-keys to place on top of the strainer, with the details below.

It was great, they got it.

Then, I went back to the poster. I told them that they must be able to write summaries and also do summary comprehension questions.

I said, we now had to go from 5 sentences down to one. We then wrote a test questions with distractors.

What would the best summary of the story be?

A
B
C
D

I showed them that often a test maker will put in details but not main elements. We took some of the eliminted sentence strips for our wrong answers. We picked a correct answer with most of the story elements.

I also punched out 5 large letter W and wrote who, what, where, when, and why on the W's

I explained that while today we were not going to cover summary for non-fiction that one way to do a summary.... would be fo fucus on the 5 W's and to key in on the topic sentences. While this is not the only way, it would work. SInce there are no story elements, we would look at the topic sentences for direction and the 5 w's.

I feel the lesson went very well.

During the carpool lane I asked two students to tell me about summary. THEY DID IT and hopefully it will stick. Next week, the general ed teacher will go into writing summaries. I feel like we are off to a great start.

I learned a lot in preparing this lesson. I hadn't realized that there really can be two ways to attack summary. I'm sure there are a ton of ways but we just focused on two ways.

I am working hard to not just practice comprehension via WORK SHEET drill and kill.......read the passage and answer the questions. I am attempting to teach them how. If anyone reading this has come across books with actual lessons that are mulit-sensory, and effective, please share. I've got a bunch of theory but it never hurts to find great books with this already done/
Michelle

Mihcelle AZ

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Sue
Joined Jun 14, 2003
Posts: 1845

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Posted:Nov 03, 2005 2:34:26 PM

We did a lot with those paragraph-practice books (this was middle & high school).
We usually ignored the multiple guess part (and sometimes covered it up).
First level is just identifying the topic and writing it beside the paragraph. Whales. Delicious foods in Qatar. Ways to fly a kite.
Second level would be to identify the topic sentence (this was in the books that were set up for this.
We taught about four "shapes" of a paragraph structure. Really common was when you started out with the topic sentence and then followed it with details. So these are shaped like a triangle standing on its end, with the "big idea" (subject) as the long line on top, with the details holding it up.
Second shape is when the details lead up to a conclusion - the point to the triange's on the top, and those little details build up to the "big idea" at the end.
I've been known just to ferret out those two types and practice with them for finding the topic sentence, which is conceptually a lot like a summary.
The other three shapes are: an hourglass (or two triangles pointing at each other) - where you start with a big idea, give details, give more details, and then re-state your big idea. THis happens in longer paragraphs ( or essays) especially with stuff that's harder to understand.

A diamond paragraph gives details, says the big idea, then gives a few more details. (This is often "description: big idea: examples" and in a science book.)

And finally, there are paragraphs that ain't got no topic sentence; they're just a list of related details and you have to infer the topic. (These tend to be very list-like.) Those are "boxes."


This is a lot of stuff... you don't throw it all out there in one swell foop of course :-)

After some practice at the paragraph level finding the ol' topic sentence and writing the topic - and sometimes they can do this pretty much intuitively, without all the talk about structure, and usually the talk of the structure just fits together, and isn't a mangled tangle of words that add to the confusion :-) -- then comes the big leap... the "main idea" (which would be 'summary' for something longer.)

For just about everybody, we read the paragraph together, and I cover it up. What was the topic? That's usually easy.

THen... "what was this paragraph trying to *say* about that topic? I need a sentence that tells me what this *whole* paragraph is trying to say."

When I get a suggestion, I go through the paragraph & say "is this sentence about that? Is this one? Is this one?" So, if it's a correct detail, only one or two sentences will be about that. "That's a good memory for details - now let's try to put all these ideas together. What are all these sentences trying tos ay, each in their own way?"

So, take this paragraph:
"THe Brooklyn I grew up in was the world. WHen we wanted to go fishing, we had the whole Atlantic to ourselves. We'd go to Sheepshead Bay, and for a dollar get a place on a fishing boat. Within an hour we'd have our haul of flounder, We had the Navy Yard, and whenever one of the battlewagons was tied up there, our schools arranged for us .....<many other examples>The zoo at Prospect Park was our lab whwen we studied natural history, and we learned about plants and flowers not only from books but also from the live exhibits at teh Botanical Gardens."

[this is actually from an 'inferences' set but it works anyway.]

Topic would be something like "Brooklyn."

Cool thing is that the "topic sentence" really isn't the main idea... we'll be able to come up with something better, like "There is a lot to do in Brooklyn!"

... next posting... what to do multisensorily once you can find the main idea...

Sue J, webmastress www.resourceroom.net

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Sue
Joined Jun 14, 2003
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Posted:Nov 03, 2005 2:40:58 PM

THis one's shorter :-)

Lots of practice reading the passage, writing the topic and/or the main idea (depending on learning style) in the margin, and then highlighting three supporting details. If it makes sense with that paragraph, underline the topic sentence and include a little drawing of the "shape" next to it.

*Lots* of discussion/reinforcement of just what the connection is between the "detail" and the "main idea."

Sue J, webmastress www.resourceroom.net

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MIchelle AZ
Joined Sep 11, 2003
Posts: 53

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Posted:Nov 03, 2005 5:58:08 PM

I love this part where Sue said:

When I get a suggestion, I go through the paragraph & say "is this sentence about that? Is this one? Is this one?" So, if it's a correct detail, only one or two sentences will be about that. "That's a good memory for details - now let's try to put all these ideas together. What are all these sentences trying tos ay, each in their own way?"

Michelle:
And I love the part about highlighting. Kids love highlighting. I think I am going to to this next week. Making it visual like this will be so helpful. Your think aloud is exactly what good readers do but I haven't stressed this enough or done this. I'll use both of your ideas. We can also do this with our Weekly Readers which they love.

THANKS, you've given me some good ideas.

Michelle

Mihcelle AZ

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