Summarizing Literacy Design

Summing Up!

Kelly Crumrine


Rationale: As students become more fluent in their reading, they begin to build their comprehension, which helps readers gain meaning.  One way students can develop this skill is by learning to summarize text.  In this lesson student will learn how to effectively summarize a passage through three simple steps (highlight important information, marking out unnecessary information and putting together the main ideas into coherent sentences), which will give them a new strategy to help improve their comprehension. It will help improve comprehension, because it will allow them to organize the information they’ve read in a clear and concise manner.



Highlighters, pencils and paper for each student

Document Camera

Poster with summarizing steps: pick out important details, mark out unimportant details, identify main ideas and summarize the important parts.

Copy of “Twister” and “Space Quest” for every student.

Checklist for Summarizing:


Did the student…


Highlight important information


Mark out the repeated and unnecessary information


Summarize the main idea into a series of coherent sentences



1. Say: “Today we are going to learn a new way that is going to make us more effective readers.  We are going to be learning about summarization. Does anyone know what a summary is?  That’s right, it is when you shorten the main ideas from the text into a smaller version.”


2. Say: “Now we are going to go over the steps of summarization. Summarizing is an important tool when reading. It helps us pick out what is important and make it into a shorter group of sentences. There are three steps to summarizing. First you must pick out the important information. Next you need to cross out unnecessary information. Finally you put together the main ideas into a series of short sentences. (Teacher should pass out a highlighter, pencil, and article to every student.  Then, the teacher will use the article on the document camera to model for students how these steps are followed through.) We are going to read the first paragraph of the article called “Twister”. It is about a horrible type of weather that damages a lot of things. We are going to have to read to find out more. (Read the first paragraph aloud). “Josh Wurman's heart raced as he sped through town. Howling winds rocked his truck. Rain slammed against the windshield. Boom! Thunder cracked overhead. Behind him, a terrifying tornado roared. If it caught him, this spinning column of air could toss his truck like a toy.” First, pick out important details in the text; you can do this by highlighting. (Teacher will model how to highlight and pick out important details.) I think it Wurman’s name is important, he is living through the storm, so I would highlight that. I also think it is important that there was a terrifying tornado that he was trying to outrun. Second, find the details that are repeated and unnecessary, you can cross it out with a pencil. (Teacher should model how to cross out and find useless information.) We already see that he is running from a terrifying tornado, we don’t need to know about the wind, rain and thunder from the tornado so I would mark all of that out. I would also mark out that his truck would be thrown if the tornado caught him, it’s interesting, but not information that is really important. Third, organize your important facts that you have left over from your reading. (Teacher should model how to organize your facts into a summary form on the projector.) My summary would be: Josh Wurman drove his truck trying to outrun a terrifying tornado. I covered all the important information, and took out unnecessary information. Now we are going to work on summarizing a story together.”


3. Say: “You read the second paragraph silently and try to mark out unimportant information and highlight the important information.” (When students are done, teacher reads, 2nd paragraph) “Normally, Wurman does the chasing. He's a meteorologist. He studies severe weather. That's why he was out on this stormy night in Arkansas. This time, though, the storm chased him. Sparks flew from power lines. A tree branch crashed onto the road. Wurman's truck swerved to miss it.” First, we want to share important details, I think the word meteorologist is important. We should look up that word and figure out what it means. (Highlight this on projector)  Second, we want to take our unimportant words, "yes, right, sparks flew from power lines is not very important." (Mark this out on the article, which is on the webcam) Last, we want to summarize all the sentences we have left and make them into a sentence or two. Wurman was a meteorologist who chased storms. Good job!”


4. Keep summarizing more paragraphs by following step 3 until the class fully understand the concept of summarizing and can do it on their own.  Once you think they can do it effectively and have completed the first article, let them try an article by themselves. On this article they should summarize the whole text.  Make sure they are using their summarizing rules to highlight and cross out while reading.  The article is called Space Quest (National Geographic) This boy had been waiting for this moment for years, he was lying inside the space shuttle Columbia and was waiting for it to take off.  Six seconds before lift off the engines were roaring and rumbling loudly.  Columbia finally blasted off into the sky and this could have been the best day of his life.  Until eight minutes later everything went silent.  There were no more sounds of engines roaring.  Let’s read more to find out what happens to the space shuttle.


5. Assessment: I will be reviewing the article with the class and asking comprehension questions to see if they have read and understood.  I will ask questions such as “What happened to the space shuttle? Does sunset happen much faster in space? What do star colors tell you?” I will then read the students summaries on the Space Quest article for accuracy. I will use the checklist to see assess the student’s understanding of summarization.



”Space Quest”

Smalley, Alli.  Summarizing Summary!



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