Successful Spider Summarizing

Reading to Learn

By: Rebekah Beason

Rationale: Comprehension is the crucial goal of reading instruction. Good readers are able to comprehend enough of a passage to restate the main ideas of the passage in a shorter form to another person. The process mentioned is known as summarizing. This lesson is aimed to provide a model on exactly how to comprehend text by reading a passage.  This will be done by selecting the significant words in the passage and summing the main idea up in just a small amount of words.


copy of the article for each student "New "Albino" Spider Found in Australia"

black marker




black widow spider passage

a passage on the smartboard to use as an example


1. Say: Today, our lesson is going to be on summarizing and how good readers summarize a passage. Has anyone ever heard about summarizing, and does anyone know what it means? Please raise your hand to be called on. (Pause for their answers) You are correct!! Summarizing is taking the main ideas or most important parts of the passage.  When good readers do this they leave out all the details that are not needed. To do this, there are three very important things to keep in mind. First, we take out the unnecessary information. Second, we organize items and events. Lastly, we construct a topic sentence.

2. Say: Now, I am going to read a passage about black widow spiders and model how to summarize it. But first let's go over a few vocabulary words from the passage. First, let's look at the word notorious. Notorious means well-known for a certain bad trait. A famous baseball player would not be notorious for his excellent skills; however, a restaurant could be notorious for its bad service. Which one of these things would be notorious: a great actor or a criminal? Finish this sentence:  The evil villain notorious for…  The next word is temperate. This words means to be mild or in the middle, not extreme.  The Arctic Ocean would not be temperate because it is freezing; on the other hand, a day in Alabama in the spring would be temperate. Which of these things would be temperate: a spicy taco or a turkey sandwich? Finish this sentence for me: The temperate weather made me want to… Ok, now that you better understand the vocabulary, listen while I read: (read the passage once then talk through summarization) "Black widows are notorious spiders identified by the colored, hourglass-shaped mark on their abdomens. This spider's bite is much feared because its venom is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake's. In humans, bites produce muscle aches, nausea, and a paralysis of the diaphragm that can make breathing difficult; however, contrary to popular belief, most people who are bitten suffer no serious damage. But bites can be fatalusually to small children, the elderly, or the infirm. Fortunately, fatalities are fairly rare; the spiders are nonaggressive and bite only in self-defense, such as when someone accidentally sits on them."   To summarize the passage, I will underline all the important parts and cross out all the parts that are not needed. (Read it again and explain your thought process.) I underlined black widows because that is what the passage is talking about.  Next, I crossed out are notorious spiders identified by the colored, hourglass-shaped mark on their abdomens. This spider's bite is much feared because its venom is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake's.  because that is extra information about the black widow that is not needed.  Then, I crossed out however, contrary to popular belief, most people who are bitten suffer no serious damage because we only need to know that the bite can be dangerous.  Also, I underlined bite only in self-defense because people need to know to stay away from these harmful spiders, but that they just bite to protect themselves. So my summary of this would be: Even though black widow spiders only bite in self-defense; it can cause great dangers for human but seldom, death.

3. Say: Now it is your turn to practice in groups. At this time please split up into groups of three and read the passage on the smartboard. Your group should create a web about the passage you just read. A web is an excellent way to help you summarize. (At this time, model on the smart board how to make a web as you are explaining it) To create a web, start with a circle in the middle. In the circle write the main idea which is the topic and most important part of the passage. Then, someone in your group should draw lines coming out of the main idea circle and draw different smaller circles at the end of these lines. These circles show the supporting details which are definitions, examples, and extra information about the main idea. (Let the students have time to read the passage and collaborate to create a web summarizing the passage.  After this is finished, draw a web on the board and go through filling it in using what the students wrote down. Ask different students to give the main ideas of the story and the supporting details. While doing this, the students should cross out the unnecessary information.)

4. Say: Now we are going to look at an article about a different kind of spider. It is a new discovery of an unusual species of spider. To find out more about the spider you are all going to read the article that I am passing out.  At this point, I would like you to get out a highlighter, a pencil and a piece of paper. Please read this article silently, and as you are reading highlight information you think is important and cross out material that you think is not needed information with your pencil. When you are done reading, I want you to make a web filling in the main idea and important information. After you have arranged your thoughts using a web, I want you to turn your details into a paragraph with complete sentences. After this is finished, hand in your article, web, and summary for a grade.


 To informally assess their knowledge of the article, I will ask how and why questions. I will then evaluate the students' assignment to assess their understanding of this skill.  The students will be graded by their ability to highlight significant facts; cross out unnecessary information and make a web by writing a summary that has complete sentences.


Dell'Amore, Christine. New "Albino" Spider Found in Australia. National Geographic News. November 8, 2011


Black Widow Spider. National Geographic. 2011


Holly Vanhooser. Ready, Set, Read!!!