Lesson Plan 2 – Comprehending and summarizing a text
Lesson objective(s): The lesson objective is to ensure that students a) are reading what is assigned and b) are reading carefully and understanding what they read. Require students to summarize/paraphrase each paragraph (for a shorter text or excerpt) into their own words. This ensures that they have understood what they’ve read. Require that at the top of the page the student writes a one-sentence statement of the author’s argument (i.e. a restatement of the thesis).
Total estimated time: 45 minutes to an hour
Additional outcome(s): Being required to put someone else’s idea into different words helps students learn how to paraphrase and also encourages them to take notice of more subtle aspects of writing like tone and style. Students learn to distinguish between main ideas and details. This lesson is an exercise in comprehending difficult prose and requires students to pay close attention to the precise meanings of words and how important these details of language can be. Students practice close reading.
Course work or assignment underway:
Work and/or reading completed before class: the article or excerpt should be read before class
Sequence of classroom activities: Have a short piece of text that the students read in class (about a page) ready with your own summary/paraphrasing next to it, paragraph by paragraph so they can see what the outcome looks like. Go through a sample text writing “what it says” statements for each paragraph.
Reflection on the lesson’s success or alternative approaches: Afterwards students can get into groups and exchange their finished summaries, which can provoke a productive discussion on the topic. Have students point out to one another where they have simply copied the same wording could also be helpful. Or as a peer critique students can use the method to let one another know when an essay is clearly communicating its main ideas (easily summarized) and where there needs to be more clarity (difficult to summarize/understand).
(This activity was adapted from John C. Bean’s book Engaging Ideas. Look there for more help!)
Download: Beauty_Predraft2_ComprehendingSummarizingText (doc)