Summing It Up with Summarization

By Morgane East



A Growing in Independence and Fluency Design


Rationale: Beginning readers learn to read; once they have learned to read fluently with comprehension, teachers’ goal is to teach students how to read to learn. Reading for comprehension is one of the most important goals for readers. One skill that helps students comprehend what they are reading is summarization. Students who know how to summarize can pull out important facts and details to create a deeper meaning and condensed version of what they are reading.



-Pencils (one per student)

-Paper (one per student)

-Highlighters (one per student)

-Article “Tiger Cuddles with Apes” (one per student)

-Article “Cat Adopts Dog” (one per students)

-Document camera, Overhead, SMART Board, or white board and dry erase marker

-Summarization rules (Written or displayed where all the students can see): Pick out a topic sentence, pick out important facts from the passage, remove information that is not very useful or that does not back up the topic sentences, pick out repeated ideas and delete them.

-Vocabulary words displayed on the board: company, orphan, instincts, and exhibit




Step 1: Class, today we are going to work on summarizing what we read! Summarizing is a great tool to make us outstanding readers! Can someone tell me what a summarization is? That’s right! When we summarize we are condensing what we read down to just a brief statement of the main points. This is a good skill to have when I or another student asks you what a book or article was about.


Step 2: Before we practice summarizing a text, I want to go over some vocabulary words with you. Our words from the story today are: company, orphan, instincts, and exhibit.


-Let’s look at that word company first. When we are someone’s company we are in association with them, fellowshipping with them, or spending time with them. When we have visitors at our house, we call them our company because they are there to fellowship or visit with us.


-We wouldn’t be in the company of somebody if we are five hours away from them; we would be a friend’s company if we went to his or her house to visit.


-Which one of these is more like company: a relative that lives two states away or a neighbor who came by to visit? A friend down the street or a friend in your living room?


-Finish this sentence: I have company when…


-Possible completion: …I have a friend come over to spend the night.


Step 3: How will I summarize a text? We will do this by using some key summarization rules. First we pick out the main idea, which is usually the topic sentence. Next, we pick out the important facts that support the main idea. Then, remove any information that is not useful or important to the main idea by crossing it out. Last, cross out or delete ideas that are repeated. That is how to make a summary! Let’s look at this paragraph from “Tiger Cuddles with Apes” by Aline Alexander Newman. Some questions we can ask ourselves to know what may or may not be important in a story are:

-Why was this story written?

-Why did the author write this story?

-What or who is the main subject?

-What are some of the major facts about the main subject?


I will show you how to summarize it (have each student refer to their own paper and mark out the words or phrases I mark out):


I’ll cross out unimportant details, then underline important ideas & put it into 1 sentence. What’s important? Who the characters are, what was done, and why it was done are all important.


Tigers don’t normally snuggle with orangutans. The big cats are meat-eaters, after all. But when Demis and Manis the tiger cubs were rejected by their mother, zookeepers at Taman Safari Zoo thought they might like the company of two other orphan siblings: Nia and Irma the orangutans.


I read the passage first. Next, I am going to go back through and cross out extra information. We know that tigers and orangutans don’t normally cuddle; we also know that tigers are big cats. We don’t necessarily need to know the animals’ names to summarize the story, so let’s mark those out too. Now, I am going to go back through and underline the important facts. Tigers are meat-eaters. These cubs were rejected, and the zookeepers thought they may like the company of some orphan orangutans.


Summary: Though tigers are meat-eaters, the zookeepers at Taman Safari Zoo thought two tigers who were rejected by their mother would like the company of two orphan orangutans.


Step 4: Let’s try summarizing a paragraph from the same article together.


“The first time I put them together, they just played,” says zookeeper Sri Suwarni. The four shared toys, wrestled, and took naps together. Then one morning, Nia and Irma began hugging Demis the tiger, and he lick-kissed them back! “That’s when I knew they were true friends,” Suwarni says.


-What is the big idea from this paragraph? (topic) One morning, Nia and Irma began hugging Demis the tiger, and he lick-kissed them back!


-Why is this important? The animals became friends.


-Summary: The animals became friends who played, wrestled, and napped together.


Step 5: Today we will practice our summarizing skills with the article “Cat Adopts Dog” by Steven Timblin. Charlie the rottweiler was born, but his mother was too sick to nurse him. You will have to read the article to find out what the zookeepers did to keep him alive. Do you think they got help from another animal? While you read I want you to stop after every paragraph and summarize it in one sentence. When you are figuring out your summary I want you to cross out extra information that you don’t need and underline the important facts, just the way we did together with the “Tiger Cuddle with Apes” article. There are only three paragraphs in this article so you should have three summary sentences.


Step 6: (Assess Comprehension) Okay, now that you have all read the article and summarized each paragraph, let’s discuss the article.

-Why couldn’t Charlie’s mother nurse him?

-What animal did the zookeepers place Charlie with?

-Did the kittens like Charlie?

-Did Satin the cat leave Charlie alone after he was grown up?




I will assess my students’ summarizations by looking at their articles where they have crossed out and underlined information and by reading their summary sentences using the following rubric:


When summarizing, did the student…



Delete unimportant information?

Delete repeated information?

Organize items with a big idea?

Select a topic?

Write an inclusive, simple topic sentence to summarize the passage?





Timblin, Steven. “Cat Adopts Dog”. ture/cat-adopts-dog/.


Newman, Aline Alexander. “Tigers Cuddle with Apes”


Long, Ali. What’s the Point? Sum it Up!.



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