Sum It Up!


Reading to Learn

Hayes Adams


Rationale: Children must learn strategies that aid them in reading comprehension. Children must learn how to focus on the main idea of the reading in order to increase comprehension. Summarizing is a way for a child to learn how to pick out the important information. Students need to be taught how to eliminate the trivial information and how to pick out what's important. Comprehension of a text is very important because it allows one to learn new material independently. Summarizing is very important because it helps you comprehend the main point or points in what you read.  In this lesson, students will learn the steps of summarization and apply them to two articles using highlighters.



- Copies of the article : Balding Penguin Gets Custom Wetsuit

(National Geographic for Kids- ) for each child

- Copies of the article : Polar Bears Listed as Threatened

(National Geographic for Kids- ) for each child



-highlighters for each child

- Assessment Checklist for each child with the following   




Delete unimportant information.



Delete repeated information.



Substitute easy words for lists of items.



Add a series of events with an easy action term.




Select a topic.



Invent a topic sentence if there is not one
















1. Start with a vocabulary lesson using two words from each text: (feisty, commissioned, threatened, vulnerable) Here is an example of the word feisty:


Explain: Let’s look at what the word feisty means. Someone or something that is feisty is sometimes mean, irritable, or easy to anger. They also have a lot of energy. A snail would not be very feisty. A feisty dog might jump all over people and lick them and be very energetic.


Ask students “Which one of these would be more feisty?”: A sloth or a cat? A butterfly or a bee?

Ask students to finish this sentence: My sister gets very feisty when  . . .

Possible completion: 

. . . when she gets woken up early and is in a bad mood


2. Tell the class that there are also other things that we can do to help us comprehend what we are reading and one of those is to summarize. Say: “Can anyone tell me what summarization is and how they do it?” Discuss the students responses and tell them: “Summarizing is what you do when you read a text and then make a short statement covering all of the important facts that the author tells you about the subject.  Now that we all know what it means to summarize, Today we are going to practice this reading silently and learn how to make summaries of what we read.


3. Next go over the steps of summarizing a passage with the class. Tell them that there are three steps to follow when we summarize.  First, Delete trivial and redundant information, second substitute superordinate terms for lists of items/events, and third generate a topic sentence that expresses the main idea.


 4. Now model how to summarize.

Book Talk: We are going to read about a balding penguin who cannot seem to recover. What is wrong with him? Will he get better? We will have to read to find out!


Pass out the short article, Balding Penguin Gets Custom Wetsuit consisting of a few paragraphs about penguins and a highlighter to the class. Tell the students now they are going to watch and participate as you model how to summarize correctly. Lets read the first few sentences. Lets highlight the main ideas in the : penguin, baldness, wetsuit.  After this explain what kind of information can be discarded, Information that is not important to the meaning of the paragraph such as the sentence: "We were really excited to do it," said Teo Tertel, company marketing specialist. "We heard most of these penguins only live to 20, and our little buddy there was already 25. Anything we could do to help them, we were all for it." Lastly, model how to relate the main facts into one to good topic sentence. Model by saying, this article is about biologists who help a penguin recover from balding by giving him his very own wetsuit.


5. Now we will practice summarizing the last few sentences together:


One concern was that the other penguins would reject Pierre in his new duds, which fastens with Velcro at the back, covers Pierre's torso, and has small openings for his flippers. But in fact, they accepted his sleek new look.
In the six weeks he has been using the suit, Pierre has gained weight, grown back feathers on his hind parts, and is again acting like his feisty, alpha-male self.
Schaller can't say for sure whether the wetsuit allowed Pierre to recover, but "certainly we were able to keep him comfortable during a period of time that would have been very difficult for him to stay comfortable."
With his plumage restored, Pierre is being now weaned off the suit.


What is the paragraph about? We will look back at the things we highlighted such as sentences like:

“A custom-crafted wetsuit may have helped Pierre the African penguin, seen here, recover from a bout of baldness.”


What is the point? We can find this by looking back at things we hightlighted such as:

“In the six weeks he has been using the suit, Pierre has gained weight, grown back feathers on his hind parts, and is again acting like his feisty, alpha-male self.


6. Now have the students summarize on their own. Remind the students to look at the steps for assistance and to use the highlighters to help point out important things.


Book Talk: Now we are going to read independently about polar bears. Polar bears are becoming endangered and may one day be extinct. We have to read more to find out why they are endangered and what is going to happen to them.


  Pass out the second article, Polar Bears Listed as Threatened.  Tell students: “Now I want you to read and summarize this new article by yourself. Only read the first paragraph and stop at the word banned right after the parentheses. I would like to remind you that you are reading silently so no one else should be able to hear you”. As they read, they should use a separate sheet of paper to record specific information to be used for their final summary sentences.


7.Assessment: The students will be assessed by their summarization from the article’s first paragraph. If they have read the article and comprehended it fully, their summaries will show for it.  The Assessment checklist found under materials will be used for this purpose.


Ask the students a few questions to make sure that they understood what they summarized:

Why are polar bears endangered?

What is making the ice melt away?


These questions will help in assessing comprehension.




-Balding Penguin Gets Custom Wetsuit

(National Geographic for Kids-

-Polar Bears Listed as Threatened

(National Geographic for Kids-

-Super Summarizers- Kathryn Mangum

- Its Time to summarize- Alexis Ogubie

- Reading Genie-