Summarizing Tsunami!


Reading to Learn

Kellie Lawrence

Rationale: The major goal in reading is to comprehend. Comprehension is when a reader understands what they read.  For a beginning reader to reach this goal, it is necessary to learn and practice summarization skills by identifying and recalling main ideas in a reading.  This lesson will help students learn how to form a topic sentence as a form of summarization.  They will accomplish this through a series of modeling and practice. This lesson will also teach students the steps of summarization and allow them to practice summarizing with a few interesting passages provided.


One copy per student of Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #15 : Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters  By: Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce that students will be able to mark on with pencil (copies may be needed)

Lined paper and pencils per student

Smartboard with first paragraph of Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters to display

Rubric for assessment:

When summarizing did the student:

Yes or No

Remove unimportant information found in the text?


Remove repeated information found in the text?


Pick out important information from the passage?


Form a main idea or topic sentence?



1. Introduction: "Today we are going to learn how to summarize what we read in books. Does anyone have any idea what it means to summarize? That's right! Summarizing is when we take the main ideas from a story and form a short overview of what happened. Summarizing helps us to understand what we have read. This is also called comprehension."

2.   "Now we are going to look at a new book that we have never read before.  The book is called Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters. This book will help us to know the warning signs that a tsunami is closely approaching, how volcanoes are formed, and if scientists can predict when earthquakes are going to happen!"

3. Prior to reading the story, explain and model the steps to summarization. Using a Smartboard,  read the first paragraph of Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters. We will mark out unimportant and repeated details, highlight important information, and form a main idea or topic sentence.  "Now we are going to learn the steps to summarizing. After reading a passage we must first delete any information that is not important or that is repeated. Secondly we have to identify important information and details that will help us to form a main idea or topic sentence. A topic sentence is the same thing as the main idea. Let's look at the first paragraph of Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters on the Smartboard. ["On December 26, 2004, Tilly Smith, a schoolgirl from England, was on vacation with her family. They were visiting an island off the coast of Thailand. The day was bright and sunny as Tilly and her family walked along the beach. The ocean appeared calm and clear."] Do you see any information that is not important? "The ocean appeared calm and clear" is not really that important, so let's mark it out (mark these out). What about details that seem important? "Tilly Smith was on vacation with her family" is important, so let's highlight it (highlight or circle these details). Now let's try and find or form a summarizing main idea about what we have just read. "Tilly Smith was on vacation with her family in Thailand and they decided to go for a walk on the beach." This is the main idea of the first paragraph."

4.  Remembering the steps of summarization will help students to comprehend what they read. Students will now create their own list with the steps to summarization to use while they read and when they write their own summary. "Now each of you should make a list of these steps to summarizing. You will use this list to help summarize for yourself!"

5.  "I want everyone to finish reading the next two chapters of our book silently. Make sure that when you are reading the story, it makes sense to you. Do not be afraid to stop at the end of paragraphs, pages, or even sentences and think about what you have just read. If it does not make sense, go back and read it again before you move on. While reading these chapters, use your pencil and list to delete unimportant and repeated information, circle important details, and underline or write your own topic sentence.

6. "When you have finished reading these chapters I would like for you to write a summary, in your own words, of what happened in the chapters that you read. Make sure you ask yourself why things are happening or how things are happening so that you are finding only the important information. You will use your steps to summarization list to help you write your summary. "

7. For assessment, the teacher will read each student's summary. Using the same steps to summarization checklist, the teacher will assess if the students have successfully learned how to summarize a passage.



Osborne, Mary Pope., Natalie Pope. Boyce, and Sal Murdocca. Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters. New York: Random House, 2007. Print.

Super Snazzy Summaries by Sarah Daughtry

Remembering Our Way Through Reading by Jessica Horsefield

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