Super Summarizer!

Schaefer Bradford

Reading to Learn


Rationale: To become a successful and efficient reader, children must have the skills to comprehend what they read. Students must learn strategic skills to help them in practicing their reading comprehension. One way students can comprehend is to summarize stories or passages. Summarization involves steps that help students locate and remember important information in a text. Through this lesson, students will be able to summarize passages by picking out important information, eliminating trivial details, and organizing the main points into a main idea.




-         Copy of article for each student – "Facts About Bald Eagles" (see reference)

-         Pencil for each student

-         Highlighter for each student

-         Lined paper for each student

-         Assessment checklist for each student (see below)

-         Article for the teacher to put on the overhead or document camera




1. I will begin the lesson by explaining to the students how important it is that we understand what we read.  Say: "Good readers are not only fluent when they read, but they also understand what they read.  This is called comprehension (write the word comprehension on the board).  When you comprehend something that means that you understand it.  To help you understand what you read, we are going to learn how to summarize, or write a summary.  Summarizing helps us pick out the important parts of the passage we are reading."


2. Say: "Who can tell me what a summary is? (wait time) A summary is a sentence that tells the main idea.  Writing summaries is a great way to help you remember what you have read."


3. Say: "Before we begin summarizing, let's look some words we will be reading: extinct. Extinct means something that no longer exists.  An animal or plant that is extinct dies and no longer has any living members. 


An animal or plant that is extinct would not be an animal or plant that people see at all.  Something that is extinct would be an animal or plant that people saw at one point, but will not see ever again. 


Which one of these is more like an animal or plant that would be extinct: a dinosaur or a dolphin? An elephant or a mammoth? 


Finish this sentence: The extinct animal/plant …


Possible completion: lived many years ago but can no longer be seen today.


4. Say: "Today we are going to become summarizers! We summarize articles, texts, and passages to make it easier to understand and to delete information that is not helpful.  There are three important things for us to do when we summarize.  First, we delete or take out all the unimportant information.  Next, we make sure and reread the details we think are important and make sure we did not leave out anything important.  Last, we put it together and make a statement that covers everything the author is saying about the article, passage, or text.  Let's see if everyone remembers! What is the first step? Second step? Third? Great!"


5. Display the first paragraph of the article "Facts About Bald Eagles".  Say: "To become great summarizers, you have to practice and follow the three steps we talked about.  Today we are going to be reading about bald eagles.  Bald eagles are very fascinating animals.  They have a wingspan of 8 feet and can live for 35 years.  Let's read and find out more facts about the bald eagle.  This passage gives us lots of information about the bald eagle and we are going to read it, find all the important information, and write a summary about the passage.  How would I summarize a long and difficult passage that gives facts about bald eagles? Let me show you!"  "I'll cross out unimportant details, then highlight important ideas and put it all into 1 sentence.  What's important?" Read the passage aloud to the students. "What the passage is talking about, what it is, and why they did not become extinct are all important parts of this paragraph." Cross out and highlight the parts of the article that answer the questions you are asking yourself.


A bald eagle's white head may make it look bald. But actually the name comes from an old English word, "balde," meaning white. These graceful birds have been the national symbol of the United States since 1782. Bald eagles were on the brink of extinction because of hunting and pollution. But laws created almost 40 years ago have helped protect them, and they've made a comeback.

Say: "I crossed out the first two sentences because they did not give important information about the bald eagle.  I highlighted bald eagle because that is what the passage is about.  I crossed out "these birds have been" because that is unimportant information.  I highlight ___________(say the highlighted area) because it gave important information about how they almost became extinct and why they are protected now."

Summary: The bald eagle, the United State's national symbol, almost became extinct until laws were made to protect them.

6. Say: "Let's try summarizing a paragraph together." Have one of the students read the passage aloud to the class.


Female bald eagles are a bit bigger than males. Their bodies can be 3 feet (1 meter) long, and their wingspan can be 8 feet (2.4 meters) across. That's about the distance from the floor to the ceiling! Babies, called eaglets, are born light gray then turn brown. When they are 4 to 5 years old, they develop their normal white heads and tails. In the wild, they can live to be 35 years old or more.

After the passage has been read, ask the students:

What is the big idea (topic) of this paragraph? Bald eagles' head and tails turn different colors

Why? Because they get older

Summary: As bald eagles get older, their feathers change colors.


7. Say: "Now I want you to practice summarizing the rest of the passage on your own.  The three steps are on the board if you get stuck and need help."  The class will work individually reading the passage, finding important information, and delete the other information.  When they think they have all the important information, they will write a summary about the passage.


8. When most of the class has completed the assignment, I will collect and grade the papers using a checklist.  On the next day, I will use the students work to teach missing concepts. "What is wrong with this summary?"



Assessment Checklist:

Students Name: _______________________________________           Date: ___________________

  Yes     No

_____            _____            Picked out the most important information

_____            _____            Deleted unnecessary information

_____            _____            Understood the information from the text/article/passage

_____            _____            Wrote a sentence(s) summarizing the most important parts of text






Johnson, Ally. Super Summarizers.


National Geographic Kids. Facts about Bald Eagles.


Bailey, Hannah. Steps to Being a Successful Summarizer.


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