Summing It All Up! 

Reading to Learn Literacy

Mary Kay Williams

        Through this lesson, children will learn how to summarize the text they are reading. This lesson will teach students how to summarize what they are reading and ultimately learn how to find meaning of what they have read.  Once students can learn to summarize the text, they will understand the text and will find meaning out of what they read.

    Highlighter for each student
    Paper for each student
    Pencil for each student
    Dry erase board and marker
    Copies of the article "Little Gorilla Rescue" from Ranger Rick Magazine (August 2003, Vol. 37, No. 8, pgs. 4-8) for each student
    Summarization Checklist (see bottom of page)   


1.      Begin the lesson with a review of silent reading.  "Today, we are going to start with reviewing silent reading.  Can anyone tell me what silent reading is?  Yes, silent reading is when we read with our eyes and not out loud.  We keep our mouths silent and read to ourselves in our minds.  Does anyone remember why it is a good idea to read silently?  Right, we do this because it helps us to understand and remember what we are reading.”  

2.      “There are also other things we can do to help us understand or comprehend what we are reading.  Now, we are going to learn a new idea that helps us understand our text even more.  We are going to do this by summarizing our text.  Does anyone know what is means to summarize a story?  It means to give a shorter version of a story or event, telling only the most important parts.  We retell it, stressing only the most important parts in order to emphasize the main idea. When you are summarizing a text, you must create a shorter version of what you read.  This means you take out any information that is not important or that is repeated in the text.  Today we are going to learn how to summarize what we read using just a few easy steps and then we will practice summarizing a text together."

3.      “There are five simple steps to summarization.”  Write the steps on the board while explaining them out loud to the class.  
    Step 1:  Pick out important details that are necessary and important to the story.
    Step 2:  Highlight the important details.
    Step 3:  Pick out the less important or repeated ideas from the story.
    Step 4:  Eliminate the less important details by crossing them out.
    Step 5:  Rewrite the story using the important details and leaving out the less important details.  Try to put the important details into your own                     words.

4.     Pass out the article, highlighters, and pencils to each child.  “Now I am going to pass out a new article, Little Gorilla Rescue.  This story is about a little gorilla.  Raise your hand if you know what a gorilla is." (Allow time for discussion)  "Would you like to have a gorilla?"  (Allow time for discussion)  "Well, let's read this article and see why this little gorilla needs to be rescued.  I want everyone to practice reading the article silently to yourself."   Make sure you allow enough time for each student to read through the article.

5.      “Now that I have written the five steps on the board, let's review them aloud and the practice using them.”  Pointing to board, tell the students, "I am going to show you how to summarize a paragraph using the five easy steps to summarization.  As I read the first paragraph, I want you to be thinking about the important facts that I read.”  Read the first paragraph out loud to the class. 

6.      “Now, we are going to practice using the five steps as we summarize the article.”   I will read each sentence out loud to the class, asking after each sentence if  the sentence is important  or not important.  We will highlight the important details and cross out the less important details.  After doing this after each sentence in the first paragraph, I will reread the paragraph just reading what we have highlighted.  I will then put the highlighted portion into my own words and read it outloud to the class.  
After summarizing the first paragraph, remind the students of the steps you used to create the summary.  “Did you see how I used the five steps to create my summary?  I pulled the useful or important information, leaving behind the less important ideas from the story."

7.      "Now I want you to summarize the rest of the article.  Remember to use the five steps that are listed on the board.  Begin by using your highlighter to highlight the parts that you think are important.  Then use your pencil to cross out the less important details"  Provide a sufficient amount of time for each student to finish.  

8.      "I want you to write a summary of the article that we have just read.  Remember to use the "five steps to summarization".  Make sure to only write the parts that you think are important and don't forget to put it in your own words."  Walk around the room and give advice on the students' summaries.  

        Have the children read the rest of the article and provide a summary for it.  Handout out a checklist (see bottom of page) that lists all of the necessary parts of the summary and make sure each child includes it in his or her summary.  Make sure that redundant and trivial information was left out of the summary and that only the main points and ideas were included.  The students will turn in the summarization to the teacher.  The teacher will read each one making sure that every student knows how to summarize a story by using the checklist below.

Summarization Checklist
Redundant information was taken out:                      O Yes     O No
Trivial information was taken out:                              O Yes     O No
There are only main points in the summarization:   O Yes     O No


Bradley, Alison.  “Sum it Up”

"Little Gorilla Rescue" from Ranger Rick Magazine (August 2003, Vol. 37, No. 8, pgs. 4-8)

Watts, Emily.  “Super Summarizer”

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