Carmen Thrower
Reading to Learn
Super Summarizers

Rationale:  When students read silently they learn a lot of new information at one time.  Students need comprehension strategies to understand all of the new information.  Summarization is an important comprehension strategy.  This lesson will teach children the how to summarize after they read a passage.

Materials:  Paper, pencils, a copy of Sarah Plain and Tall, an informational book for each student on their independent reading level

1.  We are going to start today by reviewing silent reading.  Who can tell me why we read silently?  Right!  We read silently so we can understand what we are reading.  By doing this, we can learn a lot of new information at a time.  Today we are going to learn a new way to make sure we understand what we are reading.  Can anyone tell me what a summary is?   You write a summary by picking out the main points in a story or passage.

2.  I will introduce the book Sarah Plain and Tall.  I will read the first chapter of the story.  Then I will model to the class how to write a summary.  I am going to write Sarah Plain and Tall chapter one in my first circle.  Then coming out of that circle I am going to write some of the important events that took place.  For example, some important event are when the father gets a response from Sarah and when Sarah comes to visit the family.

3.  Now I am going to read chapter two of Sarah Plain and Tall.  (Read the chapter.)  Now I want you to help me make a map of the second chapter.  Great job!  (If the students do not understand, continue to model and guide them in summarizing.)

4.  Take the students to the section of informational books in the library.  Have the students choose a book that is on their independent reading level.  Explain to the students that they should read a page of the book and hold up a finger for every word they do not know.  If they have more than two fingers up at the end of the page, they should choose another book.

5.  Now I want everyone to read the first chapter or the first ten pages of their book.  When you are finished, I want you to take out a piece of paper and make a summary map of your story just like we did for Sarah Plain and Tall.

6.  Allow the students time to share their maps.

7.  Assessment:  Take up the students' maps and read over them to make sure they understand how to summarize.   Have a checklist so that you will know what the students understand about summarizing and what areas they still need help in.

Pressley, Michael.  Strategies That Improve Children's Memory and
Comprehension of Text.  The Elementary School Journal.  Volume 90,
number 1.  1989.

"Summarization is the Key to Success"  By:  Barclay O'Brien
Genie Website:

MacLachlan, Patricia.  Sarah Plain and Tall.  Harper & Row:  1985.

Click here to return to Challenges.

For more information, send email to