Summarizing Monkey Business



By: Jessica Strickland

 Reading to Learn Lesson Design

Rationale: The main purpose for reading is understanding and comprehension. Summarization is an important strategy for understanding reading. Through this lesson, students will practice their summarization skills by using a graphic organizer to help with the strategies for summarizing. The students will also work on forming a topic sentence from reading an article about monkeys.



*Poster with summarization rules to display:
          -Get rid of unimportant information.
          -Get rid of repeated information.
          -Organize items and events under one umbrella term.
          -Select a topic.
          -Write a topic statement that covers everything that is important from       
            the text.    

*Poster of the article on Howler Monkeys: (

*Copies of “Two Monkeys See a More Colorful World” from Science News for Kids 1 per student (

*pencil, paper, pens, markers, highlighter (1 per student)

*dry erase board and marker

* Summarization checklist

Did the Student…



Get rid of unimportant information?



Get rid of repeated information?



Organize items under one umbrella term?



Select a topic?



Write a topic statement that covers everything that is important from the passage of the text?




1.I will begin by introducing the comprehension strategy of summarizing to the students. “Today we are going to talk about summarizing. This is a great way to help us understand and remember what we read. Summarizing is kind of like recapping the most important parts of what you read.”

2.Next, I will review our fluency strategy of rereading and cross-checking to understand a sentence that we are having trouble with. “Before we get into summarization, let’s remember what we can do if we come across a sentence that we don’t quite understand.” Write ‘The ducks swam up the strean looking for food.’ “If I read the sentence, ‘The ducks swam up the strean looking for food’ I would think hmm? That sounds weird, let me read that again. ‘The ducks swam up the ssttrreeaannn looking for food’ strean? Ohh, stream! ‘The ducks swam up the stream looking for food.’ A stream is like a river. Cross-checking helps you to understand unfamiliar words.”

3.Next, we would discuss the rules to summarization. “Now we are going to look at the five rules for summarizing.” Show the poster to the students and read the rules out loud. “Now I want you to read this paragraph about Howler Monkeys. Once you are done we are going to summarize the paragraph together.”

4.Display the Howler Monkey’s poster. ”Let’s look at our paragraph…Follow along as I read out loud: ‘Howler Monkeys are the loudest of all monkeys. They call to let others know where their territory is, alerting them to stay away. The calls sound like a loud whooping bark or roar. After one group of howlers call, another group answers.’ The first rule on our summarization rules poster says we need to get rid of unimportant information. I am going to mark out ‘the call sounds like a loud whopping bark or roar’ because this information is not crucial to know to understand our paragraph, even though it is great information to know. Our next rule is to get rid of any repeated information. I am going to cross out ‘alerting them to stay away’ because we already know why Howler Monkeys call from the sentence before. Now we are ready to organize our facts under one umbrella term, which means we are going to come up with an idea of what our article is about. Let’s highlight the important phrases: ‘The Howler Monkey is the loudest of all monkeys.’ ‘They call to let others know where their territory is’ and ‘After one group of howlers call, the others answer.’ Our umbrella term is, ‘The Howler Monkey is the loudest of all monkeys.’ Our next step is to decide on a topic for our summary. I think that the best topic would be ‘Howler Monkeys’ since that is what the paragraph is about. The last step in summarizing is to come up with a topic sentence. The topic sentence is one sentence that recaps the whole paragraph, using only the most important information. So our topic sentence would be, ‘The Howler Monkey, the loudest of all monkeys, calls out to let others know where their territory is, and when one group howls, the other monkeys answer.’” I would write the topic sentence on the board.

5.”Now we are going to practice summarizing with a different article.” Give a book talk on the article. “Squirrel Monkeys are usually color-blind, but some scientist wanted to see if they could change that. To find out what they did to help the monkeys see in color, you will have to read Two Monkeys See a More Colorful World.” Pass out a copy of the article to each child. “I want you to read this article to find out how these monkeys could see colors, and then you a going to summarize it. As you are reading, remember to cross out any information that is not super important to the main idea, or information that is repeated. Highlight the sentences that are important to the main idea of the article. When you are finished, you will write one topic sentence summarizing the most important information from the article. Show all of your ideas by marking and highlighting your paper, and then turn in your article and topic sentence to me when you are done.


Assessment: I will review each student’s topic sentence and their marking that they and on their article. When reviewing their work, I will use the summarization checklist to make sure that they are applying the summarization rules to their understanding of creating a topic sentence. Their topic sentences may vary, but a good topic sentence would be: A group of scientist tested out experiments with squirrel monkeys, which are color blind, to see if gene therapy would make them be able to see colors.




National Geographic Kids. Creature Feature- Howler Monkeys.


Science News for Kids. ‘Two monkeys see a more colorful world.’


Terry, Meg. Something’s Fishy About our Summaries.


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