Short and Sweet

Kathleen Boehme

Reading to Learn: Summarization


Rationale: The goal of reading is to comprehend the text.  To some, comprehension can be a barrier during their reading.  This may be because they are having difficulty reading or because they lack successful strategies that would make comprehension easier for them.  Many strategies exist for providing the student a means for understanding text.  Summarization is one of these strategies that allow students to take the important information from a passage and remember it for further use, while disregarding unimportant or trivial information. Students need to be instructed on how to summarize efficiently. The purpose of this lesson will be to teach students how to summarize by asking themselves questions and learning the important steps of summarization.

Materials: White board (to write questions and steps), white board markers, pencils, paper (to write summary), Class copies of National Geographic for Kids magazine (use article Giant Jellyfish Invasion) article talk: There are some giant jellyfish called Nomura Jellyfish that are invading Japan, and it is causing a major problem. We should read the rest of the article to find out what happens.

1. First, tell the students they will be reading silently in a magazine.  Refresh their minds by reminding them how to read silently.  Be sure to tell them that reading silently means that they do not talk with their neighbor and show them how to follow along closely with the text and even how to reread the passage if they are unclear about a portion of it.  


2. Say: Good morning class!! Today we are going to learn how to summarize an article after we silently read it to ourselves first.  This will help you understand what you read in the future and get the most out of your reading.  Now we are going to read this article silently.  Let's remember to follow along closely and not talk.  You can begin reading now.

3. Wait until all children are finished reading.  Say: Okay, I think we've all finished are article now.  Now we're going to learn how to summarize what we've just finished reading.  Does anyone know what summarization means? Great job! To summarize means that you have picked out the important information from an article or story.  There are several important steps to remember when summarizing a story.  Write the steps on your marker board.


Delete unimportant information.

Delete repeated information.

Substitute easy terms for list of items

Write a series of events.

Select a topic.

Find the topic sentence, or make one if there is not one.

As you explain each step to the students, model the procedure and answer questions they have.  Say: These are just a few steps that will make summarization a little easier for you.  If I read an article about how to get up and get ready by myself in the morning, I don't need to remember what kind of pajamas the person in the article was wearing or what kind of toothbrush he/she had.  I need to remember the main points that it hit on.  For instance, I would need to remember that I have to set an alarm to wake up.  Then, I need to get up and get a shower.  After that, I would have to decide what I want to wear to school and get dressed.  Next I need to eat a well-balanced breakfast and then brush my teeth before I leave for school.  Those would be the main points of the article.  However, what the person in the article had for breakfast would be relatively useless and unimportant to me.

4. Put the class in groups.  One thing that will help you summarize is to draw a map.  You put the main idea in the middle square and then the supporting details around it.  This reminds me of a wheel with the hubcap in the middle and spokes coming out of it.  Demonstrate this on the board as you are telling them what to do.  Now, I want you to use the six steps we talked about earlier and make a map of our article. Put the map on the board.  What would the middle circle be?  The main idea.  Good!  Okay, what is the main idea of the story?  Jellyfish. Great!  Now, we will draw spokes coming from the circle that describe something about the jellyfish.  What are some important ideas about the jellyfish?  The jellyfish are huge and can weigh up to 450 pounds.  These are great ideas!  Remember to always come up with ideas that support the main idea, which here is jellyfish, and continue to draw lines from the main idea.  Give the students some time to think on their own of some more details.  Tell them after they finish the web that if they make these ideas into complete sentences then that will be their summary.  Remember you should always have a topic sentence.  This topic lets the reader know the main idea of the story.  The other ideas support the topic. 

5.  Now take your piece of paper and write a short summary on the article.  Remember to answer the questions and follow the guidelines we just talked about.  Raise your hand when you are done and I will collect them to see if you followed directions and see if you followed the questions for writing a summary.  Then as a class, discuss the main ideas, setting, characters, and other information that might be helpful to help you summarize.

Assessment:  I will read their summaries to check whether they understood the article that they just finished reading.  They should have included the main ideas or key points from the article.


Long Story Short by Anna Reeves. Spring 2010.


Shorten the Length by Dorsey Tippett. Spring 2005.

Musgrave, Ruth. Giant Jellyfish Invasion. National Geographic Kids Online.

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