Stupendous Summarizing!

Reading to Learn

By Anna Day


Rationale: Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading. It is important for students to not only be able to read fluently, they also need to be able to understand what they are reading. Summarization is a strategy that can be taught to students that can help increase and strengthen their comprehension capabilities. Students who know how to summarize are able to recall and identify the main ideas of a passage. In this lesson, students will be taught the key skills needed to summarize the information they read in an article. By providing the students with this instruction, they will acquire the knowledge that will help them better interpret the meaning of the text they are reading. 


Materials: the article “Why do we need trees?” Kids Discovery, “Facts About Bald Eagles” from National Geographic Kids , paper, pencils, summarization checklist (copied on paper and a poster sized version), whiteboard, and highlighters, projector




1. Say: Now that you have all become fluent readers, I am going to teach you how to summarize. Does anyone know what it means to summarize? When we summarize, we look for the most important parts of the passage and identify the author’s main point in the passage.


2. Display the poster in front of the class and pass out the papers with the summarization checklist on it to each student. Say: When you summarize a passage, there are some important steps you need to remember. These steps include 1) Delete unimportant information 2) Delete repeated information 3) Substitute easy words for lists of items 4) Add a series of events with an easy action term 5) Select a topic and 6) Create a topic sentence if there isn’t one already.


3. Say: Before you start reading and summarizing, I want to go over a few vocabulary words you may not know in this article. (vocabulary words: oxygen, carbon dioxide, inhale/exhale, virtually)    


Oxygen is one of the gases found in the air that every living person, animal, and plant needs to live.


What is more likely to need oxygen? A dog or a tennis ball? A train or a sunflower?


Finish the sentence: Oxygen can be found…

Possible completion: inside, outside, or anywhere there is air.


4. Say: Part of summarizing a story is silently by yourself and asking yourself questions quietly about what you are reading as you read. Let me show you an example of what I am talking about. As I read a passage I am going to ask myself… What is this story about? What are some main facts? What is the author’s purpose? After I answer these questions and look at my summarization checklist, I can summarize the passage. (Use the first paragraph of ”Facts About Bald Eagles” to model for the class how to summarize. Make sure to go through the summarization checklist and show the students how to use it. Use the projector so that all the students can see)


Example Paragraph: A bald eagle's white head may make it look bald. But actually the name comes from an old English word, "balde," meaning white. These graceful birds have been the national symbol of the United States since 1782. Bald eagles were on the brink of extinction because of hunting and pollution. But laws created almost 40 years ago have helped protect them, and they've made a comeback.


Say: I crossed out the first two sentences because they did not give important information about the bald eagle.  I highlighted bald eagle because that is what the passage is about.  I crossed out "these birds have been" because that is unimportant information.  I highlight ___________(say the highlighted area) because it gave important information about how they almost became extinct and why they are protected now.


Summary: The bald eagle, the United State's national symbol, almost became extinct until laws were made to protect them.


Now I want you to read silently the article “Why do we need trees?” and then we’ll discuss as a class how to come up with a summary for the article. You may use a highlighter or a pencil to underline to help you identify and remember the main points.


5. Say: This article is about why we need trees to live. Does anyone know why we need tress? Trees provide us with something very important that every cell in our body needs. Lets read to find out more (Give the students about 10 minutes to read through the article. Draw a web on the board.) Now that you have read through the article, I would like you to get out a piece of paper and draw this web along with me as we develop a summary. As you were reading.. What was the main topic? What did you think were the main points? You need to be specific, but also keep it short. We will create a new branch on our web for each main point and then later we can combine them to make a summarizing paragraph. (Create a web as the students share what they believe are the main points of the article. Make sure each student is also drawing out the web on his or her own paper.)


6. Say: So, why again is summarizing important (helps you comprehend text)? Now that we have a web drawn out, we need to come up with a topic sentence. I want you to look at all the information we listed on the web and to look back at the article. Does our article have a topic sentence or do we need to make one? A topic sentence is one sentence that tells us what the whole text is going to be about. (Together as a class identify or come up with a topic sentence.)


7. Say: We have created a web and a topic sentence together. Now I want you to write the rest of summary by yourself. What all have you learned about the steps to summarize? Think about the steps as you write and remember paragraphs are only around 5-10 sentences long, so keep it short and only include the main ideas. Make sure to use the web and your summarization checklist as you write your paragraph. I will be walking around the room and answering any questions you may have.   


Assessment: I will walk around the room and observe the students as they work. I also will take up the student's summarizations to see how well they understood the concept.  When assessing each student's summarizations, I will have a checklist with the six rules on it and I will check yes or no depending on whether they followed the rule or not.




Summarization Checklist




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







Create a topic sentence if there isn’t one already








 “Swimming Through Summarization” by Carmen Harper

“Super Summarizers” by Brittney Nobles

“Super Summarizer!” by Schaefer Bradford

“Why do we need trees?”  from Discovery Kids

National Geographic Kids. Facts about Bald Eagles.

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