Summarization Nation


Reading to Learn

Courtney Macurdy

Rationale:  As students become better readers, it is important for them to know how to gain meaning and understanding about the stories they are reading.  The ability to summarize is vital to comprehension and making sure the students are learning the most pivotal information from the text.  While there are many comprehension strategies, this lesson will focus on teaching students how to summarize a selection of text. Students will use strategies such as deleting unneeded information and highlighting useful information.

Materials: Individual copies of the article: Baby Boom! Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species, Individual copies of the passage: Tiger, Chart paper with first 2 paragraphs of Baby Boom! article written on it, Pencils, paper, highlighter, pens (1 for each student), Dry erase board, marker, and highlighter (for teacher), Poster with the sentence, “Beware of dogs because they can bite”, Summarization Checklist for teacher (see below)


Did the Student…



Get rid of unimportant and repeated information?



Organize items and events together?



Select a topic?



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





1. Begin lesson by introducing to the students the comprehension strategy of summarizing. The teacher will say, “Today we will be talking about summarizing. Summarizing is a great way to help us understand after we read. It is a good way to remember the important parts of a story.”

2. To prepare students for the vocabulary they will encounter, the teacher will lead the class in a short vocabulary lesson. The vocabulary words are captive and endangered. “Captive means one is being held without permission. In other words, one is a captive if they are in prison. For example, in the story we will read, the word is used to describe animals in a cage. Can you think of animals that are captive? Yes, like all zoo animals because they are stuck in cages without being able to be free. Next, endangered means on the way to extinction. To review, extinction means completely erased from the planet. There are no living species of that type left once an animal is considered extinct. Animals that are often hunted for game are endangered. For example, bald eagles and tigers are endangered. There are not that many of them left in the world. Can you think of any other animals that are endangered?”

3. “Now, we will discuss the rules of summarization. Let’s look at these rules” (Write rules on the white board and read each rule aloud as I write it). Rule number 1: Delete all of the unimportant and repeated information. This rule is simply saying to delete the information unrelated to the main point. Rule number 2: Organize items and events together. This rule simply means to get all of our information together in a section and organize it, possibly using a graphic organizer. Rule number 3: Select a topic. This means that we should create a topic that is only one or two words that tells exactly what the story is about. Rule number 4: Write a topic sentence that covers everything you find important about what you read. This should be very brief, but it needs to cover what you find to be important out of everything you read. Now, we are going to read the first two paragraphs of the article you have on your desks.” (Call on 2 different students to read each paragraph aloud while the rest of the class follows along) “Once we have finished reading, I will model for you how to effectively summarize the statement we just read”.

4. Now, show the students the chart paper with the first two paragraphs written on it. “As you can see, I have written out on chart paper what we just read. We will use this to mark out unimportant information to help us with the summarization process. What is the first step in the summarization process we have on the board? Right, delete the unimportant or repeated information. Okay, so what do I see on the chart paper from what we read that seems unimportant? The first sentence doesn’t seem to be very important, so I will mark that out. Does everyone see why we will also mark out the last sentence? It is not vital to the passage either. These do not need to be in our summary. The second to last sentence in the passage does not need to be included either, so I will mark that out. The second sentence in paragraph one is important to show how many pandas actually survived. The second sentence in paragraph two is important to show the reader about how much a baby panda weighs at birth. Now we are ready to move on to step 2.We are going to create an idea or main idea of what the article is about. I will use my highlighter to mark the most important phrases. Now I will highlight the only sentence we have left in the first paragraph. For the second paragraph, I will highlight every sentence except the last sentence, which we marked out. Now it is time to decide on a main topic for our summary. After reading these sentences, I believe that ‘Su Lin’ is a great topic. I will write that on the board as we start writing our summary. Now it is time for the final step, a topic sentence. Remember that this is one sentence that recaps the whole passage we read. Let’s read over what we have left that we have highlighted.” (Read highlighted sentences aloud with class). “I believe that a good topic sentence  would be, ‘Su Lin is one of 19 captive pandas who turned a year old, and she now weighs 75 pounds, making her the third giant panda cub born in California Zoo. (Write this sentence on white board under the topic).

5. “Next you are going to practice summarizing using a different reading!” (Pass out copies of passage, Tiger, to every student). (Give ‘book talk’) “This is a passage all about tigers. Tigers are ferocious and so big when they’re adults! How big are they when they are born? What do they like to do? You’ll have to read the text to find out! Be on the lookout for vocabulary words like fierce, which means dangerous, and frolic, which means playful. Remember after you read to go back and cross out any information that is not relevant to the main idea or supporting details. Then you will highlight the sentences that are important to the main idea. Next, you will find the topic and write a topic sentence. Any questions? Good, get busy! Please turn in your article and your summary in to me when you have finished.”

6. Assessment: Teacher will evaluate student’s marking on the passage they are given, as well as the summary they have written. Teacher will use the summarization checklist included above.


-Baby Animals A- to- Z: Tiger. Animal Planet, 2011.

- Gordon, David George. Baby Boom! Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species. National Geographic for Kids. 1996-2008.

-Griffin, Meg. Long Story Short.

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