Summing it Up

Reading to Learn

Casey Walker


The ultimate goal of reading is to comprehend what is read. For a beginning reader to reach this goal, it is necessary to learn and practice summarization skills to identify and recall main ideas in a reading.  This process of identifying and recalling main ideas is called summarization. This lesson will teach students the steps of summarization and allow them to practice summarizing with a few interesting passages provided.


One Summarization Tips bookmark for each student.
Summarization tips (written on bookmarks)


1. Pick out a topic sentence from passage

2. Pick out important facts from the passage
3. Remove information that is not very useful, or that does not back up the topic sentences
4. Pick out repeated ideas and delete them.

One copy of National Geographic's article "Honey Bee Mystery" per student (copies can be found at:

One copy of national Geographic's article "Cat Adopts Dog" per student (


Pencil, highlighter


1.  "What do you think the word comprehension means? When you comprehend something, you understand it. The main goal of reading is to understand or comprehend what you are reading.  This is more than just reading the words on the page, but actually understanding what the words are telling you. This is how we read stories and information. It is important for us to read and think about the information to process it and understand it."

2. "One way you can comprehend what you are reading is by summarizing. Summarize means to review or recap what a story is talking about. IT is the most important parts of a story that the author would want you to know."

3. I will have a transparency of the article and will use the overhead projector to model to students how to summarize.

4. “Follow along with me on your paper as I highlight and cross out what is needed and not needed in the article. We will practice this one together, and then you will practice summarizing on a different article. As you read I want you to pay close attention to what the most important information is in this article.”

5. Before I read, we will all read the tips for summarization off of the bookmark. After discussing them, we will read the article aloud. "Now are there any important facts? Yes! Now let's highlight them." Highlight the important facts in the first paragraph. "Now are there any facts we can delete? Very good, cross those out with your pencil by drawing a line through them" (teacher is also following directions on overhead). "Are there any repeated ideas? Mark those out too. A topic sentence is the main idea of the passage. What do you think the topic sentence of this paragraph would be? Lets underline it." Point out to students that generally the first sentence of a paragraph is a great topic sentence.

6. Continue to finish the passage with the students, one paragraph at a time, following the rules on the provided bookmark.

7. When the class is done identifying the important ideas, create a short three sentence summary of the passage. Do this on the board and as a class.


8. "Now you will read the article "Cat Adopts Dog" also from the National Geographic website." A printed copy should be provided for each student. Students will draw, underline, scratch out just like we did as a group. Have students write a paragraph summarizing the article in their own words.  Check summaries for main ideas and for understanding of main topic.


Ashley Baker: Fishing for Summary

Honey Bee Mystery article:

Cat Adopts Dog article:

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