Swimming Through Summarization

Reading to Learn

Stephanie Pollak



            Once students learn how to read they need to read to learn. By building their comprehension skills, students will gain meaning from the text. To advance their comprehension skills, students can learn how to summarize the text. Throughout this lesson, students will learn how to effectively summarize passages in a text that they read by learning a systematic way to find important information while removing unimportant information. Students will be able to use this new skill to help them read to learn.


Materials:            - Large tablet or chart paper

            - Pencils (one per student)

            - Two different colored highlighters (one of each color per student)

            - Paper

            - A copy of The Secret Language of Dolphins for each child

- A copy of Giant Jellyfish Invasion for each child.

-Summarization rubric for student -- placed on a bookmark:

       _____ Write your topic sentence (main idea)

       _____ Find important details that support (help) the main idea

       _____ Remove information that it not important by crossing it out

       _____ Remove any idea that is already said

       _____ Write a 3 – 5 sentence summary



1. Introduce the lesson to the class. "Today we are going to be learning how to summarize. Who knows what summarizing is? That's correct! Summarizing is when we pick out the most important parts of what we read to make it easier to learn what was in the passage. When you read a passage, you have to figure out what the main idea is. Then you have to pick out the most important parts and remove the information that does not support the main idea. Today I want you to learn how to find the main idea, find important details, remove information that is not important, and remove any idea that has already been written down."


2. Pass out the bookmarks and highlighters to each student. "This bookmark is going to help you remember what you should do while you summarize a passage. We are going to use different writing materials to help us remember these steps. When you find the main idea, use the yellow highlighter. When you find important information that supports the main idea, use the orange highlighter. When you find information that doesn't support the main idea or ideas that are repeated, cross it out lightly with your pencil. You should not put a huge line through it, you should just put an X on part of the sentence."


3. Pass out The Secret Language of Dolphins to each student. "We are going to practice summarizing together. This article talks all about how dolphins communicate with one another. What could dolphins possibly talk about? Let's read this article to find out!" Read the story together as a class through echo reading. "Now that we have read the story, lets talk about summarizing it." Go through each step on the bookmark as a class. Write this information down on the chart paper so that the students can use it as a reference when they summarize on their own


"First we are going to find the topic sentence. Who knows what the topic sentence might be? That's right; dolphins communicate with each other and talk about many different things. Next, we are going to find the important details that support the main idea. Let's write a few of those down. Some of those ideas are dolphins communicate with a special code, dolphins talk about all types of things such as emotions and age, and they also start talking to each other from birth."


"Next, we are going to remove information that is not important. For example, is it important for us to know that Kathleen is trying to communicate with dolphins herself? No, not really. Let's cross that out. Is it important to know that at an aquarium, they had a mother dolphin talk to her baby dolphin over the phone? It may seem interesting but it is not really important to our topic sentence."


4. "Next we are going to write a few sentences to make a summary. What do you think we should write down? That's a good idea! Let's write that on the chart: Dolphins communicate with each other every day. They start communicating with each other from the day they are born. Dolphins talk to each other about many different things, including their age and even how they feel! Even though dolphins talk just like humans, they use their own special code. That is a wonderful summary."


5. Pass out copies of Giant Jellyfish Invasion to each student. "Now it is your turn to summarize on your own. I want you to read Giant Jellyfish Invasion silently to yourself." For a book talk you may say something along the lines of "There are giant blobs taking over Japan's waters! What could these supersize creatures be and why are they in Japan's waters? Read this article to find out!"

"After you read, use your bookmarks to remind you of the steps for summarizing. Once you find each part, I want you to write a three to five sentence summary."




I will assess the students by picking up their first and second summarization. The reason I will pick up the first copy is to ensure that the students were not confused during the lesson. I will use the check list I provided the students (on the bookmark) as a guide to reviewing and grading their summaries. I will also walk around the room while they are working silently on their own to ensure that they are on task and summarizing correctly.




Flipping Over Summarization by Morgan Pierce



National Geographic. Giant Jellyfish Invasion.



National Geographic. Secret Language of Dolphins.



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