Summary Superstar!


Reading to Learn

By: Mary Haley Byrne


Rationale: There are many important goals of reading instruction. One of these strategies is summarization, which is a key strategy that fluent readers use in order to understand text. To be able to read and recall information from texts, children need direct instruction in how to appropriately summarize material. By implementing these skills students will be better prepared to recall and discuss information they read. In this lesson, students will learn the six steps of summarization, which will allow them to summarize what they are reading and ultimately gain a better understanding of the text.
paper, pencil, white board, markers
, document camera, a copy of National Geographic's "When Giants Go Mini: Size of Dinosaurs Surprise Paleontologists" for each student, highlighters, bookmarks with the five summarization rules:

1. Select a topic

2. Highlight the important details using key words

          3. Delete repeated information

4. Delete unimportant information

5. Invent a topic sentence if there is not already one



1. Say: Today we are going to be talking about a new reading technique that good readers use to understand what they read. Do you know what summarization means? [Have the class discuss what they think it means] When we summarize we decide which information in the story is the most important. In other words, you focus on the main ideas and ignore the tiny little details. Today, we're going to learn how to summarize so that you all can be great readers. 


2. Say: Now that we know what summarization is, lets talk about how you summarize. [Pass out bookmarks with rules and have them on the board] As you see on your bookmarks, there are six important rules for summarization. The first step is to pick a topic. The second step is to highlight the important details using key words. The third step is to pick out ideas that are repeated and take them away. For the fourth step we pick out the less important ideas and take them away. And our last step is to invent a topic sentence if we don't have one. When you are reading, you can always use your bookmark whenever you need a little help remembering the steps.


3. Say: Before we read our article and practice summarization, lets go over some really important words that we will need to know. First of all, lets look at the word paleontologist. A paleontologist is a scientist who studies things that were on earth a long, long time ago. They study and examine fossils of plants and animals. A paleontologist would not study things that are currently on earth. Do you think a paleontologist would study dinosaurs? Yes you are right! Dinosaurs lived on earth a long time ago, so they would study their fossils. Do you think paleontologists would study a pet that you have in your house? Right, they wouldn't because they don't study things that are here now. But, what are fossils? Fossils are the remains or evidence of living things that existed thousands, millions, and even billions of years ago. Sometimes paleontologists find footprints and skeletons of living things like dinosaurs in very old rock. These are fossils! Fossils are how we know so much about dinosaurs! A fossil wouldn't be something found in dirt, they are just found in rocks. Now, lets look at what the word species means. A species is a group of living things that are similar or have similar characteristics. There are thousands of different kinds of species. Every single animal is in a species! Do you think that dinosaurs would be in a species? Yes! There are many different dinosaur species! Also, lets talk about what the words excavate means. When you excavate something you dig it out of the ground. Paleontologists excavate fossils from creatures out of the ground so that they can study them more closely. If I saw a cool rock in the ground with something on it, like a fossil, do you think I should excavate it? Yeah! That way I can see it better! [As you go through the words write them on the white board/ smart board]


4. Say: Now that we know about summarization, we are going to read something and see if we can use our new steps to summarize the article together. We are going to read an article from National Geographic about the different sizes of dinosaurs. Lets read the article to find out whether all dinosaurs are big or if some of them are small. Don't forget the vocabulary words that we learned, because these are very important. [Pass out the article to each student] We are all going to read the article silently to ourselves. When you are finished quietly put your head on your desk and wait patiently for the rest of the class to finish.


5. Say: All right class, take a look at the document camera screen with the article on it. I will demonstrate how to summarize, and then you will do it on your own! So, I know from our list of rules that the first thing I need to do is find out what the topic is. I need to ask myself: What subject seems to be mentioned the most? Everyone take a minute to look at their article. What do you think the topic is? I agree, I think it is about small dinosaurs [write on board]. Now that we have the topic, we need to highlight the important details. But, how do I know what is important? Any ideas? [Let the students make suggestions]. Y'all made some great points. Since our topic is "small dinosaurs" we need to pick out the information pertaining to the type of dinosaur they found that was very small. What I think we should do is go through the article highlight the word dinosaur in blue. Lets see what we get [do it on the overhead]. So we got dinosaur, but what is the actual name of this small dinosaur? Right! Europasaurus! I am going to highlight that word too because that goes along perfectly with our topic "small dinosaurs." Now, why is this important? What is the author saying about these dinosaurs? I am going to go back through and look at the sentences with our blue words in them. Then, I am going to highlight the word or words in yellow that make them important. This can get tricky, but remember we are only focusing on the main ideas! [Read the first sentence out loud]. What kind of dinosaur are we talking about? Good! A baby! [Read the next sentence with dinosaur]. What about this one? Yeah, highlight smallest. [Use this process to keep going through the article]. Now, we need to go through and mark out the parts of the article that aren't important and also parts that repeat themselves. These are things like descriptions, definitions, repeating, or extra information that don't go with the main point. Is it really important to know about the quarry or where they found the fossils? Not really so lets underline that part in pencil. What about the paleontologist's name? Not too important! [Go through the rest of the article using this technique]. Now that we have eliminated parts that aren't necessary and have highlighted the important things, we need to find a topic sentence. Everyone read over the highlighted parts of their article. Any ideas? [Take some ideas from the students]. Great points! How about we put them all together: Paleontologists have discovered fossils of dinosaurs that are smaller than any other dinosaurs found in the world [write on the board].


6. Say: Does everybody think they can do this on their own? Great! Now that everyone knows what they are doing, I want you to read another National Geographic article about how dolphins communicate with each other. If you need any help you can look at your bookmarks to guide you. When you are finished reading, take out your highlighter, piece of paper, and pencil, and summarize the article. Don't forget to eliminate unimportant or repeated information, substitute easy words for list items, highlight the important things, select a topic, and then finally create a topic sentence.


Assessment:  I will take up the student's summarizations to see how well they understood the concept.  When assessing each student's summarizations, I will have a checklist with the six rules on it and I will check "yes" next to the rule if they followed it and "no" next to a rule if they did not.  Also, the entire time they are working on their summarizations, I will walk around to make sure that they are following the steps written on the board and on their bookmarks and that they understand the material.



Houlton, Allyson. "Be a Super Summarizer."

"When Giants Go Mini: Size of Dinosaurs Surprise Paleontologists." National Geographics Kids.

"The Secret Language of Dolphins." National Geographics Kids.


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