Summarizing Super Star


Reading to Learn

By: Kelsey Pugh


Rationale: Comprehension is the final step in students' reading development. Reading for comprehension implies that a student is no longer focused on decoding but instead they are concerned with the actual message of the text. Comprehension is crucial for students to be successful in reading. In this lesson, students will practice summarization as a comprehension strategy. The students will summarize by selecting important information and eliminating unnecessary details. The teacher will model how students differentiate between important and unimportant information to show the students how to write a concise and effective summary.


Materials: Copies of The Secret Language of Dolphins and Polar Bears Listed as Threatened  from National Geographic Kid for each child, one copy of the dentist article from Kids Health, white board, white board markers, and article talk,  document camera or overhead projector, summary checklist



1.  I will begin the lesson by explaining to the students how important it is that we understand what we read. "Good readers are not only fluent when they read, but they also understand what they read. This is called comprehension (write the word on the board). When you comprehend something that means that you understand it. So, in order to understand what you read we are going to learn how to summarize, or write a summary. Can anyone tell me what it means to summarize? Good, it means to give the main ideas of a piece of literature. Does anyone remember any rules that we went over to help us when we are trying to summarize information? Very good! They are: delete unimportant information, delete repeated information, substitute easy terms for lists of items, add a series of events with an easy action term, select a topic sentence, and invent a topic sentence if there is none. We are going to be practicing our summarization skills as well as learning about the different types of rocks."

2.  Before we begin to summarize let's look at what the word dictator means.  A person who is a Dictator has complete and absolute power over a certain place. A dictator is a person who has complete control. The dictator does not have to listen to anyone else. Which one of these is more like a dictator: The principal at an elementary school or the janitor? The dad in a family or the child in a family? The dictator controls ……  (Possible answer: how the country is run)

3. Say:  "Now I am going to show you a passage on the document camera.  I want you to read the passage silently to yourself as I read the passage aloud.  As I am reading the passage, I am going to model how to cross out unimportant details, then underline important ideas & put it into 1 sentence. What's important?


The dentist is a doctor who is specially trained to care for teeth. When you visit for a checkup, your dentist will look at your teeth and gums to check for any problems. The dentist also wants to make sure your teeth are developing properly as you grow.

I underlined the word dentist because that is what the passage is about; I also underlined doctor and teeth because they describe dentists. I crossed out "who is specially trained," because that is unimportant information. I also crossed out_____ (say crossed out words) because they were repeated or unimportant.


Summary: The dentist is a doctor who looks at your teeth and gums see if they're healthy.


4.  Let's try summarizing a paragraph together.


In many ways, you are just like the more than 30 species of dolphins that swim in the world's oceans and rivers. Dolphins are mammals, like you are, and must swim to the surface to breathe air. Just as you might, they team up in pods, or groups, to accomplish tasks. And they're smart.

Big Idea: Dolphins are like humans.

Why? They breathe air, they teams up in groups to accomplish tasks, and they are smart.

Summary: Dolphins are like humans: they both need air, team up in groups to accomplish tasks, and they are smart.


5. Pass out The Secret Language of Dolphins from National Geographic. Today we will practice our summarizing skills with the article The Secret Language of Dolphins from National Geographic Kids. Dolphins are a lot like humans, they can communicate to one another. The article you are about to read gives information about why dolphins communicate to one another. Today you are going to read The Secret Language of Dolphins article. The article is broken up into sections; each new section is in bold. After each section I would like you to write a summary for each section.

Assessment: To assess students understanding of summarizing I will take up their checklists and summary to see who needs further help.

Pass out a paragraph about Polar Bear's from National Geographic Kids to each student

Polar bears live in the Arctic and hunt seals and other fatty marine mammals from sea ice. They also travel, mate, and sometimes give birth on the ice. But sea ice is melting as the planet warms, and it is predicted to continue to do so for several more decades.



Did the Student.... Yes No
Delete unimportant things    
organize items with a big idea    
select a topic    
write a topic statement that covers everything that is important from the passage of the text?    



The Secret Language of Dolphins. National Geographic Kids. November 2011.


Roach, John. Polar Bears Listed as Threatened. National Geographic Kids. November 2011.


Goss, Lisa. What do Dentist's Do?  Kids Health. October 2010.


Crum, Keri. "Otter" Sum it Up. Adventures. Fall 2010.


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