Sum it Up!

Reading to Learn Design


Beth Kelley

Rationale: The main goal in reading: comprehend what is read.  In order to be able to comprehend a passage or story, the student will need to know how to summarize. Summarization is a skill that helps students comprehend what they are reading because it allows them to pull out important facts and generalize details from the story. The goal of this lesson is to teach students the steps of summarization including creating a topic sentence, finding important information, deleting repeated ideas, and removing unneeded information. This lesson allows students to practice this process with different text.


- Pencils (one per student)

-  A pink and a blue highlighter (for each student)

-  Paper

- Individual handouts and transparency of Giant Jellyfish Invasion

- Individual handouts of Green Invaders

- Individual bookmarks with summarization rules for each student

       _____ Select a topic (What is it about?)

       _____ Remove information that is not important by crossing it out

       _____ Remove any idea that is already said

       _____ Put details into categories

       _____ Write the main point about the topic based on details

       _____ Write a 3-5 sentence summary of the article

- Individual rubrics for each student covering their summarization




1. Tell the children about the lesson and the purpose of the lesson. Say: "Today we are going to be learning how to summarize. Can anyone tell me what it means to summarize something? Yes, summarizing is finding the main idea! Summarizing is very important because it helps us find the most important information, or main idea, about what we are reading. In order to find the most important information, we need to delete the information that isn't important. Through our lesson today, I want you to learn how to find the main idea by finding the important details and removing any information that is not important."


2. Give students the bookmarks with summarization rules. Say: "This bookmark is very important because it has all of the rules for a good summary on it. You need to make sure that you keep this bookmark so that you always do your summaries exactly like you need to! Let's look at this bookmark together. For a good summary, you need to write a topic sentence. This topic sentence is the first sentence in your summary that is describing the main idea. You also need to make sure that all of the important information is in your summary and the unimportant or repeated information has been left out. And lastly, a summary is only a brief description of the main idea of a passage. This means that it needs to be short! All of your summaries should be only 3-5 sentences in length. When we summarize we reduce paragraphs to single sentences, then those sentences are reduced to a summary paragraph."



3. Say: "There are three important steps to summarizing: First, you need to pick out all of the important details of the passage you are reading. Second, you need to find the details that are repeated or that aren't important and you need to cross out these details. And third, you need to organize the important parts and find the main idea that summarizes what you have read."


4. Give students the handouts of the 'Giant Jellyfish Invasion'. Say: "This is an article about the unusual amount of jellyfish in the coasts of China and North and South Korea. We're going to read this text together! But before we begin reading, there are a few vocabulary words that I need to go over with you. The first word is "siege". Does anyone know what the word "siege" means? Let's look at our context clues. Everyone look at the last sentence in the second paragraph. This sentence says that "local fishermen are feeling as if they are under siege". Hmm, if they are feeling as if they are under siege, do you think that means that they are under something that is good or bad? Right, something bad! Siege means to be attacked! So when we read the sentence again, it says that the fishermen feel like they are under attack! There's one more word that we're going to go over before we begin reading, and this word is 'catastrophe'. That's a BIG word, and it has a BIG meaning! When something is a catastrophe that means that it's really REALLY bad! An example of a catastrophe would be a hurricane. A rainbow is NOT an example of a catastrophe. Can you think of an example of a catastrophe? Finish this sentence: The catastrophe caused.. The word catastrophe is in the last sentence of the last paragraph. It says that the fishermen hope they can turn the catastrophe into cash! What do you think that means? Your right, they are going to try to change the invasion of all the jellyfish from being bad to good! Both siege and catastrophe mean something bad, so do you think this article is going to be about something good or bad that is happening with the jellyfish? Let's read and find out!


5.Read the article to the class. After reading tell the students, "I'm going to show you how I would summarize this article."


Say: "When I summarize I always cross out the unimportant details, then underline the important details. There are important guidelines that we need to follow when deciding if something is important or not. When reading an article, what subject seems to be mentioned more than once? That is the topic. That's important because that is what the article is about. Next, what is the author trying to say about the topic? We need to look at the action words first. Are some alike? Can we put all the alike words into a category? Let's look at the first and second paragraph and I'll model what I do when I am summarizing!"


  Are aliens attacking the Sea of Japan? Not exactly. But these gigantic blobs are unwelcome visitors from another place called Nomura's jellyfish, the wiggly, pinkish giants can weigh up to 450 pounds (204 kilograms)--as heavy as a male lion--and they're swarming by the millions.

            The supersize sea creatures--normally found off the coasts of China and North and South Korea--occasionally drift east into the Sea of Japan to feed on tiny organisms called plankton. But now one hundred times the usual number of jellyfish are invading Japanese waters. And local fishermen are feeling as if they are under siege.


6.Say: "First, I'm going to highlight in blue the things that are the same. I see the words jellyfish and Japan the most, so I know that those are the key words about what this article is about. Now I want to figure out what the author is trying to say about the jellyfish in Japan. What's the point? I'll look for the verbs and see what the action is. I'll highlight those words in pink. After highlighting the verbs in pink, I can see that the jellyfish aren't doing anything good. It says that they have been swarming, feeding, and invading! I think that's what it's about! Now that I've found out what the article is about, it's time to go back through and cross out the things that aren't important. Things that aren't important include descriptions, examples, repeating information, and anything else that is taking away from the main point of the article. In the first paragraph, mostly everything can be crossed out because it is all extra information. The word "supersize" can be crossed out because that is a description, and we already know how big the jellyfish are. We also already know where they are found so "normally found off the coasts of China and North and South Korea" can be crossed out too. The last sentence: "And local fishermen are feeling as if they are under siege" also isn't very important, so we're going to cross that out as well. From the two first paragraphs, we've summarized that Nomura's jellyfish are swarming by the millions. These sea creatures occasionally drift into the Sea of Japan to feed on Plankton. Now one hundred times the usual number of jelly fish are invading the waters! See! Summarizing is easy. Now I want you to summarize the next two paragraphs on your own!"


7. Give the students enough time to highlight the words, and cross out the unnecessary information, and underline the important information. Say: "Now that we have found the important details and crossed out the unimportant details, we need to figure out what could be the topic sentence for our summary. Hmm, well we know that most of the article talks about the fact that there have been more jellyfish than normal, and that no one knows their cause. So our topic sentence needs to be about that! My topic sentence could be: Recently, there have been an unusual amount of jellyfish that are taking over the waters in the Sea of Japan for an unknown reason." Continue writing the rest of the summary down with the students, writing the important parts that we underlined on the transparency and leaving out the unimportant information. "Now that I have finished my summary, I need to look back at my bookmark and make sure that I did everything correct. Did I write the topic sentence? Did I write only the important details? Does it cover all of the important details in the article?? Perfect!! Summarizing is easy, and it helps you remember what you have read!"


8. Pass out the handouts of the article Green Invaders. Say: "Now that we have worked on a summary together, I want you to try and summarize an entire article on your own. This article is called 'Green Invaders.' It is about invaders that are taking over America! Hmm.. I wonder what kind of invaders they are talking about? You're going to have to read and find out! While you are reading, make sure that you are marking out the information we don't need, and underlining the important information! If you can't remember what you need to do, look at your bookmark for help!"



I will assess the students by using this rubric to grade their summaries. I will also be walking around the room observing the students as they are completing their summaries.


When summarizing did the student…




1.) Delete unimportant information?





2.) Delete repeated information?





3.) Organize items with a big idea?





4.) Select a topic?





5.) Write an inclusive, simple topic sentence to summarize the passage?





Ruth A. Musgrave, Giant Jellyfish Invasion,

 Catherine Clarke Fox, Green Invaders,

Summarization Invasion by Katherine Crum

Super Summarizing by Beth Binkowski


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