Summing up the Facts


 Leslie Chasteen

Reading to Learn

Rationale: As students begin to emerge as fluent readers, they must be able to remember the important information that they read. A single reading of material does not often enable students recall all of the information that they read. However, mature readers experience little difficulty recalling the important main ideas of the material.


Materials: Copies of National Geographic for Kids: “When Lightning Strikes” article, paper, pencil, chalkboard, chalk



1)     Ask students: “Who has ever read something but remembered everything that you read and had to look back over it?” “Today we are going to talk about summarization. Summarization is being able to explain what you read in a few sentences, and it makes what you read a lot easier to remember and explain.”

2)     Pass out copies of the article “When Lightning Strikes” to each student. Instructions for students: “Now I want each of you to silently read this article. If there is a word that you cannot read raise your hand and I will help you. Do not try to remember every fact in the article, but try to remember some of the ideas that you think are important.”

3)     On the board draw an outline. “Now this is an outline and we are going to summarize the article that you just read. Who can tell me the title of the article? Okay the title goes here at the top. Who knows what the subheadings are? The subheadings are written below the title. Not every article has subheadings, but most of them do.

4)     Assessment: “Now I want everyone to take out a piece of paper and pencil and write a brief one paragraph summary of the article that you just read. Remember to write only the important facts.” Students summaries will be assessed  based   on the information that  they  provided.


Pressley, M., Johnson, C. J., Symons, S., McGoldrick, J. A., & Kurity, J. A. (1989). Strategies that improve children's memory and comprehension of text. The Elementary School Journal, 90, 3-32.

 Campanotta, Gina. Reading to Learn: Summarize the Danger:

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