Plug it all in

Reading to Learn

Kristen Britton

Rationale: Comprehension is an important part of the reading process for children. One great way for students to develop comprehension is through summarization. Summarization is important because children need to be able to know what is important in the text that they are reading. There are certain strategies that can help students grasp the important parts of what they are reading.


Paper and pencils for each student

Chalkboard/Chalk (or whiteboard/markers)

Colored Pencils

Poster with three techniques for summarization (Pick out important ideas, eliminate the less important details, and organize the important ideas into one main idea)

Article for each child: 10 Cool Things About Dolphins Kids


*Explain to your class what silent reading is. Make sure to remind them that comprehension is an important part of reading fluently, even when reading silently. Explain to them that “Today we are going to learning how to summarize something you read. Does anyone know what summarizing is? It is when you pick out the important facts that make up the main idea of the text you are reading. However, not everything in a story is important, today we are going to learn and practice some techniques that will help us summarize a story. We are going to read silently at our desks, does anyone remember what you do when you read silently at our desks? Good, well let’s read to ourselves without talking to people around us.”

*Tell your students that there are three basic steps to summarizing a story. Read them a short paragraph of a story and model to them how to summarize it. Have the three steps written down on a poster, and point to it as you explain each step. “Before we begin to read, let’s go over three important things to remember as you read. The first step is to pick out the important ideas from that story, the second step is to discard the ones that are not as important, and finally organize the important ideas and create one main idea of the story.”

*Pass out the article to each student, and have them read silently through the first paragraph of the article before focusing on the three summarizing steps. Then have the students re-read the article and practice using the three steps that you talked about previously. Have them write down three facts that they think are the most important to the story. Model your three facts that you think are important after they read theirs out loud. This will help the students when they do this in the future. Tell them, “When you read the story the second time, cross out all the information that isn’t important to the story with a pencil. Circle the sentences that you think are important and then finally, take all the circled sentences and combine them into a sentence or two that sums up the whole article.”

*Now that the students have had practice they should have a good idea how to summarize a story. Pass out paper to each student and tell them to create three columns: Deleted information, important facts, and most important ideas. Explain to them to fill in information from the story into the three columns, model using the first paragraph again, This will serve as a scaffold for the students while they summarize their first article. If students have problems putting the info into categories on paper, allow them to continue the crossing out and circling method. “Everyone please finish reading your article silently. You should have three columns on your paper, write the sentences in the column that they fit under as you read the article, if it helps continue to cross out unimportant information and circle important stuff. Remember to write down all of your information as you go.”

*Continue to use these strategies to reinforce the summarizing techniques so that students become more comfortable summarizing texts they read.


You can assess your students understanding of summarization by checking their columns on their papers. Also, have the students draw pictures of the main ideas in the stories they read and ask them to tell you what the picture means. Another assessment a teacher can give is asking the students to summarize another article or short story and write a short summary using the facts on their lists.


Putting it all together –Lea McLean ( 10 Cool Things About Dolphins Retrieved 13 November 2005

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