Sum It Up!


Natalie Dekle


The purpose of reading is comprehension. Being able to summarize what has been read is a useful strategy for readers to use to help them comprehend the text. Three things are important with summarizing: Get rid of unnecessary or repeated information, find the most important items or events, and write a statement covering everything the author is trying to say. The students will practice summarizing articles in this lesson to gain greater comprehension skills.



Computer with internet access (National Geographic website for readings)

White board and markers

Paper, highlighter, and pencil for each student



1. Start lesson by saying, “The purpose of reading is comprehension. That just means that the reason we read is to understand what we are reading. Sometimes we want to understand just for fun and sometimes we want to understand to learn something. A great way to help us comprehend is to learn to summarize. This is something I will teach you that you will be able to do on your own to help you understand to text better.


2. We have been practicing reading silently, in our heads, and I want us to keep doing that. Let’s practice it before we start to summarize. I’m going to write this sentence on the board and then read it out loud. Read, “My dog can run really fast” out loud. Now read it silently. See how I did that. Now it is your turn. Read this sentence out loud, then read it silently in your head, “Yesterday was a beautiful day to take a walk.” Very good.


3. “On to summarizing. There are three rules I want you to remember when you summarize.” (Write on the board as you say). “They are: 1. Get rid of any unnecessary or repeated information. 2. Pick out the most important items or events. 3. Write a statement that covers everything the author is trying to say about the topic.” 


4. Read “The Great Koala Rescue” on National Geographic for Kids’ Website to class ( “Now I will follow our three rules of summarizing to help me comprehend this text, and you all follow along. First, I will try to get rid of any unimportant information. For example, it is not really important that the koala in the story was looking for eucalyptus leaves. Next, I will take out important events or items. For example, the koala got its head stuck in the fence. A park ranger helped to free it. Last, I will try to make a statement that covers everything I read. For example, In Australia, a koala got its head stuck in a fence, but a park ranger came to save it by using a tranquilizer and cutting it free.”


5. Now it’s your turn! Summarize this paragraph like I did the last one. “As lightning flashed around them, Sabrina and her parents ran for cover. “When it stopped raining, we thought it was safe," says Sabrina. They started to hike back to their car along the trail. Then zap! A lightning bolt struck nearby. It happened so fast that the family didn't know what it hit. A jolt of electricity shot through their bodies” Have the class work together and use the three rules.


6. Give each student a copy of “Flying Sharks” by David George Gordon from the same National Geographic website.


7. Explain to the students that as they read they are to mark out the unimportant or repeated information with their pencil, and highlight the important facts.


8. After they have finished that, have them work in pairs to write a summarization of the article by using the three steps.



For assessment, collect their articles as well as their summarizations. Check their three step process by seeing if they marked out and highlighted correctly. Also check their summarizations to make sure they are understanding the process.



National Geographic for Kids,

Nell Fleming, 1,2,3…A Summary,

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