Popping Summaries


Reading to Learn

By: Kim Brackin

Rationale:  When children have acquired the ability to read quickly and accurately we should begin to teach them different strategies.  Summarizing is a very important literacy goal for all readers.  To summarize a text is to find the main ideas and/or the important ideas in the reading.  Understanding and comprehending a text is the main goal of literacy.  Summarizing helps to achieve this goal.  In this lesson students will learn three steps to summarizing a given text.


Pencil, Highlighter, Paper, Model Article “Cotton Candy”

Summarizing Check list

“Get rid of unimportant details”

“Highlight the most important ideas”

“Write summarizing sentences with the important ideas”

Copy of practice article for each student “Popcorn”

Document Camera/ overhead project (Some tool to model summarizing for class to see)


1.Introduce the lesson: “Today we are going to be learning a new skill that will help us better comprehend what we are reading.  We know that when we comprehend we understand what it is we are reading.  So the skill that we are going to learn about today is called summarizing. Summarizing is when we remove unimportant information in what we are reading.  When we do that we are then left will all of the most important information.  Once we have all of our important information we can then take those to form sentences about the main ideas in what we are reading.

2.Model how to summarize a text for the class.  “I will model for you how to properly summarize a text.  First, we have to read the whole article.  After I have read the article all the way through I will go back and find the unimportant information.  I will mark through these details with a pencil.  As I go through I will continue to ask myself is these are detail that are telling me important things about the main idea of the story.  Next, I will go through and highlight all of the important details that help me understand what I am reading. 

Example article: Cotton candy was first recorded around the 1900s. At that time, spun sugar was an expensive, labor-intensive endeavor and was not generally available to the average person. Machine-spun cotton candy was invented in 1897 by the dentist William Morrison and confectioner John C. Wharton and first introduced to a wide audience at the 1904 World's Fair as "Fairy Floss” with great success, selling 68,655 boxes at the then-high price of 25¢, half the cost of admission to the fair. Fairy floss was renamed to "cotton candy" in the 1920s.

3. “Now that I have highlighted all of my important details it is now time for me to put them all into a few short summarizing sentences.” 

Summary Sentence:  Cotton Candy was invented around 1900 by William Morrison and John C. Wharton.

4. Give each student the Summarizing Check List.


Hand out article to each student in the class.  “Now I want you to try.  First read your article.  Remember, you will then cross out the unimportant information with your pencil, then highlight all of your important information.  Then, turn your important details into a few short summarizing sentences.  Refer back to your check list if you need help.”  Have students turn in both their marked on article and their summary sentence and evaluate each student’s level of comprehension of the new strategy.

Example article for students to summarize:

Popcorn is a snack food made by heating certain kinds of corn. There is a small amount of water inside the seeds, which causes them to explode. When the seed shell breaks a sharp noise is made. The name "pop" is because of this noise. After it pops it is white and fluffy.

Salt and melted butter is often added to popcorn. Sometimes caramel is melted and mixed into the popcorn.

(Summary sentences will vary from child to child)


Sum Up the Text by Grant Chaffin:


Cotton Candy article:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotton_Candy

Popcorn article: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn

Return to Doorways Index

Email me: Kim Brackin