Shoot for the sky: Summarize

Reading to Learn

Catherine Bonner

Rationale: The main goal of reading instruction is comprehension. Comprehension reveals that students understand the material that they are reading. One of the ways teachers can check to see if students comprehend text is to use summarization. To summarize, students choose the main ideas and highlight the important facts while eliminating trivial information. This lesson will help students develop the skills necessary to summarize a text. Students will use the following summarization rules: choose a topic sentence, cross out unimportant details or repeated ideas, and highlight important ideas and combine them into one sentence.



Materials:  One copy of Thunderstorms, one copy of Weather Patterns for each student, one piece of paper for each student, one pencil for each student.


Summarization Rules:

1. Choose a topic sentence

2. Cross out unimportant details or repeated ideas

3. Highlight important ideas and combine them into one sentence.





1. "Good morning class!  Today, we are going to practice a new strategy while we read. We are going to focus on summarizing because this will help us to understand what we are reading and become even better readers! Can anyone tell me what it means to summarize something? (The teacher will take 2-3 responses)  "Great job!  It is a shorter version of a long story or article which has only the main facts and ideas. Before we can summarize, we will first need to learn our summarization rules which are:

 1. Decide what the main idea of the story or article is.

2. Cross out unimportant sentences or repeated ideas.

3. Highlight the important facts and ideas and combine them into just a few sentences.

 I am going to pass out a bookmark for each of you. I want you to write the summarization rules on your bookmark. Once you are finished writing the rules, you can decorate your bookmark. Hopefully you will use these bookmarks while you are reading to help you remember to stop and summarize what you have just read. This will help your comprehension improve.

 Now that we know all of our rules, I think we are ready to practice our summarization.



2. "Today, we will practice by reading several pages of a book and summarizing it. (I will write the summarization rules on the whiteboard for the students to use while they read). Make sure you refer to our summarization rules as you are doing this, and make sure the summary you write is in your own words. The best way to do this is to read closely, reread important parts, and to take notes as you read. Remember to cross out unimportant information or information that is repeated several times in the text. Before we get started, we will review our vocabulary words." Vocabulary list: humid and Tropics.




-Let's look at what the word humid means. Humid means containing a lot of moisture.  

-In Alabama the air is typically very humid.  The weather is not humid in Arizona.

- Which place would be humid swamps in Alabama, or the Rocky Mountains?

 -Finish the sentence:  Humidity can affect the weather because…


Tropics means: Very warm parts of the world on either side of the Equator.

Many islands are considered Tropics. Colorado would not be in the Tropics.

Many thunderstorms occur in the Tropics because of the warm, moist air.

Which animal would you find living in the Tropics, camels or crocodiles?

Finish the sentence: A place that might be considered the Topics is… because…


3. Model: After going over the vocabulary words and the rules with the students, the teacher will model how to summarize by reading, "Thunderstorm." The teacher will give a book talk: "This book is all about thunderstorms. It teaches interesting facts about what a thunderstorm is and what can happen because of them. What do you do if a thunderstorm comes? We will have to read to find out!”  Now we are going to read the book together as a class.” The teacher will read the first two pages and then ask: "How would I summarize the first two pages? First, I would cross out unimportant details, then underline important details and combine them into one sentence. When summarizing, some questions you can ask yourself that might help guide you are: What are these pages about? What is the main point? Watch as I model summarizing the first two paragraphs."



What is it about? Thunderstorms

What is the point? A thunderstorm is a very powerful storm with strong winds and heavy rain.


“A thunderstorm is a very powerful storm with strong winds and heavy rain. Thunderstorms are different from regular storms because they include thunder and lightening. The rain from thunderstorms can cause floods. Hail can break windows and ruin crops. Lightening can strike trees and houses. Strong winds can blow down trees and power lines.”


 I see that the passage talks about thunderstorms three different times. This tells me that thunderstorms are probably the main idea of this passage. Next I can look at the action words in the reading to decide what the important information about thunderstorms is. I see verbs like: break, blow down, and strike. All of these words can be combined to describe damage. We want to include both thunderstorms and damage in our summary.


Summary:  Thunderstorms are extremely powerful storms causing damage with rain, wind, and lightening.  



4. Guided practice: "Let’s all read the next two paragraphs and see if we can summarize them together!”



"Thunderstorms happen in many parts of the world. They happen most often in places where the sun is very hot and the air is very moist. Many of these areas lie in or near the Tropics. This island lies in the Tropics. A lot of thunderstorms happen here. When storms roll in from the sea they can bring a lot of rain and strong winds.”


“I would like each of you to turn to your partner and share with them what you think the important ideas of this passage are.”

 The teacher will ask for three responses out loud. “What makes you think that these are important ideas? Did you ask yourself these questions?

What words or ideas do we see repeated over and over? Words describing weather conditions

What are the action words in these sentences? Happen, lie, roll.

What is it about? It is about where thunderstorms most often occur.

What is the point? Thunderstorms most often occur where the sun is hot and the air is moist.



Using this information, we can summarize our reading.

Summary:  Thunderstorms occur all across the world but are most common in areas where it is very hot with very moist air.



5. Next, the teacher will give the students each a copy of Weather Patterns and say: “ Now we are each going to practice our summarization skills with this book, Weather Patterns.  This book talks about the weather of different locations and why weather follows certain patterns. There are some vocabulary words we need to remind ourselves of before we start our reading. These words are: pattern, climate, and ray. Now I would like for you all to read this book. Remember to highlight important facts and details and cross out those facts that are not useful. Then, write a sentence that summarizes each page on your own paper.  To help you summarize, ask yourself: What's it about? What's the point? Good luck!"



 To assess student learning, the teacher will take up the students written summaries of Weather Patterns . The teacher will evaluate whether students gave a good summary based on how well they followed the three summarization rules given at the beginning of the lesson.



The major goal of teaching the summarization strategy is to help students improve their reading comprehension. In order to assess student comprehension of Weather Patterns, the teacher will ask:

What type of weather pattern happens every day?

What type of weather pattern happens every year?

What is the weather like around the equator?

What is a season?



 Weather Patterns. Hughes, Monica. Heinemann Library, 2004. Chicago, IL.

Thunderstorms. Chambers, Catherine. Heinemann Library, 2004. Chicago, IL.

“Sum it up” Kayla Jones

Return to Awakenings Index