Zip It Up by Summarizing

Reading to Learn

By Lydia Hinshaw


Being able to comprehend or understand what is being read is the ultimate goals for readers. Summarization is a skill that helps students comprehend what they are reading because it allows them to pull out important facts and details from the story. Summarization helps the students focus on what is really important in the message and allows them to not get lost in the minute details of the message.  This allows them to create a deeper meaning from a shortened version of what they are reading. In this lesson, students will learn the steps and rules of summarizing and practice summarizing one chapter of a book.


1 copy per student of Martin Luther King Jr. by Rob Lloyd Jones

1 copy per student of A Tough Turtle by Liz Sawyer

Pencil (1 per student)

Paper (1 per student)

Highlighter (1 per student)

A copy of the summarization rules (1 per student)


Chart with the summarization rules written out (in word document): Pick out a topic sentence, pick out important facts from the passage, remove/cross out information that is not very useful or that does not back up the topic sentences, pick out repeated ideas and delete them.

-Assessment check sheet

Did the student…



Delete unimportant information?



Delete repeated information?



Select a topic sentence?



Write a topic statement that covers everything that is important from the passage of the text?





1.     To begin the lesson, explain to students that they will be learning a new skill called summarization that will help them sum up the important details of what they are reading.

"Today class, we will be working on a new skill called summarizing. What do you think a summarization is? That's right! When we summarize what we are reading, we pick out the important details to form a shorter version of the whole article in our own words."

2.      Introduce the "Rules of Summarization" chart and go over the rules with the students.

"To help us summarize, we are going to learn some new rules. First, you pick out the main idea of the article. This is usually the topic sentence. To do this, ask yourself 'What is this article all about?' What do I think the author is trying to tell me? Next, you cross out all the extra information that is not useful or important in supporting the main idea Then, you pick out the important facts that help support the main ideas or topic of the article, mostly what is left after crossing out the extra stuff. Finally, you cross out all the repeated information or ideas. Those are the rules of summarization!"

3.      Model how to summarize by reading an article aloud and leading the students through the rules of summarization.

Voca review:

To understand the article we are going to read today we need to know some new and cool words.  Does anyone know what a sand bar is?  It is a place in the ocean where the water is shallow so that the sand is almost sticking out of the water.  There is usually deeper water on each side of the sandbar.  Here listen to the word used in a sentence:  The boat sailed along the ocean coast until it got stuck on a sandbar. Can anyone else use the word sandbar in a sentence?

Does anyone know what the word survival means?  It means to continue living even when life is tough and you don’t think you can make it.  Here listen to me use it in a sentence:  Dogs have great survival skills that help them keep living even in the wild.  Does anyone want to try using survival in a sentence?
Teacher displays summarization rules on a Smartboard: "We are going to practice summarizing an article together. Everyone pull out your copy of the article 'A Tough Turtle' by Liz Sawyer. Today we are going to read about a young sea turtle that was found stranded on a sandbar with giant holes in his shell. He was struggling to survive. What do you think they did to help him? Let's read and find out! You are going to whisper read this article as I read it aloud to the class. We are going to read it one time through without making any marks. Then we will read it a second time and I will underlining the important information and crossing out the extra information that is not needed. Are you ready?" Teacher read the article once through without stopping.  Once the students are done reading the article through the teacher puts up the first paragraph on the Smartboard to be displayed while the class goes through it.  The second time through the teacher thinks aloud “what is the main idea of this article?  Are what the important facts are?  I need to cross out any extra details.  If I can’t remember what to do I can look up at the summarization rules and see if I have followed them.” The teacher will use the paragraph that is displayed to model the process.

4.      After reading through the article, have the students answer questions and model how to pick out the important information to create a summary.

"Okay class, let's follow our summarization rules to create a summary of this article. I want you to make the same marks on your paper that I make on mine. The topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph that introduces what the paragraph is all about. What do you think the topic sentence or main idea of the first paragraph would be? Very Good! Let's underline it. Okay, now let's go to each paragraph and underline the important information. What information is important in supporting our main idea in the first paragraph? Great! Let's take out our highlighters and highlight it. Now what information is unimportant? Good! Let's go through and cross out all the extra information that we do not need with our pencil."

5.     As a class, help the students take the information from the article and create a summary in their own words.

"I want everyone to pull out a clean sheet of paper. We are going to take our underlined and highlighted information and practice putting it together to create a summary of the article. Remember, we want to put the summary in our own words, not just copy it from the article word-for-word." (Model for the students how to put the information together so that it flows nicely into a summarization.)



6.     To assess students, give them a copy of the summarization rules and the text Martin Luther King Jr. and ask the class to summarize the first chapter on a piece of notebook paper.  Collect the summaries and evaluate them looking for clearly stated main points.  Also looking to see if the students can demonstrate the ability to follow the summarization rules.  "Great job today, class! Now I am giving each of you a copy of the summarization rules and I want you to remember to put the summary in your own words. 


Long, Ali. "What's the Point? Sum it Up!"

Sawyer, Liz. "A Tough Turtle."

Kaylyn Kirsch “Summarizing Superstars”

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