Let’s summarize!!

Reading to Learn

By, Brittany Gleason




Rationale: The main goal of reading is comprehension. Some students may be able to read quickly but if they do not understand the meaning of what they have read, it is pointless. There are many different strategies to develop comprehension while reading; one of these strategies is summarization. Summarization is when we reduce the text into the main ideas and key details, which is called a summary. In order to create a good summary we must delete trivial and redundant information, substitute superordinate terms for lists of items/events, and generate a topic sentence that expresses the main idea. Being able to create an effective summary will increase student’s comprehension. In this lesson students will learn the five rules of summarization and apply them by reading a book and writing a summary. We will also review key vocabulary terms from the text we will be reading that will also help students with comprehension.



Text: It’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (one for each pair of students)

Short story turned into an overhead

Graphic organizer



Paper for students to write their summary

White board and pen

Vocabulary lesson:

Say: Before we read today we need to look at some new words in the text so we will understand them when we read them.

Words: Drizzle, varied, occasional, drifts


Lets look at what the word drizzle means. Drizzle means light misty rain.

When it drizzles outside it is not raining hard it is very light, it is not a thunderstorm.

Example sentence: The football game tonight will probably not be cancelled because it is only drizzling outside. 

Which of these situations sounds like it is drizzling outside: 1. “Oh wow we need to run to the car, better get your umbrella out!” 2. “Oh I don’t think you will need your umbrella, it’s not that bad out.”

Complete the sentence: It felt so nice outside after soccer practice when it was lightly ________________ outside.





I will begin this lesson by telling the students that in order to be effective readers we must not only be fluent we need to understand what we are reading as well. A great strategy to work on comprehending what we read is by summarization. When we summarize we pick out the main ideas of the story. By looking back and explaining the main points of what we read we are forced to think about and comprehend what we have read. Today we will be applying the strategy of summarization to the story Its Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.

Before we begin reading the story I want all of you to know the 6 rules of summarization. This will help you to summarize the situation later.

Delete trivial (or unimportant) information.

Delete redundant (or repeated) information.

Substitute general terms for lists of items.

Integrate a series of events with a general action term. Select a topic sentence.

Invent a topic sentence if there is none.

“Now we are going to read a short article together as a class.  I will then model for you and show you how we can summarize it in a few sentences.” I will put this story up on an overhead and cross out the not important parts after I have read it. “All of the words that I cross out are unimportant and do not need to be used when summarizing what this story is about.”


A man had a little dog, and he was very fond of it. He would pat its head, and take it on his knee, and talk to it. Then he would give it little bits of food from his own plate. A donkey looked in at the window and saw the man and the dog. “Why does he not make a pet of me?” said the donkey. ”It is not fair. I work hard, and the dog only wags its tail, and barks, and jumps on its master’s knee. It is not fair.” “It is not fair. I work hard, and the dog only wags its tail, and barks, and jumps on its master’s knee. It is not fair.” So the donkey ran into the room. It brayed as loudly as it could. It wagged its tail so hard that it knocked over a jar on the table. Then it tried to jump on to its master’s knee.  The master thought the donkey was mad, and he shouted, “Help! Help!” Men came running in with sticks, and they beat the donkey till it ran out of the house, and they drove it back to the field. “I only did what the dog does,” said the donkey,” and yet they make a pet of the dog, and they beat me with sticks. It is not fair.”


“Now that we have read this article lets go back and pick out the main ideas. The main idea is that the donkey does not understand why he cannot be a pet like a dog. The next main event that happened was the donkey went into a mans house and tried to act like a dog. The last main idea and the conclusion was that the man was scared, the donkey got kicked out of the mans house. The donkey did not think that was fair because he was just acting like a dog.”

“Now that we have picked out our main ideas our summary should sound something like this:” Write this on the board: “This story is about a donkey that did not understand why he could not be a pet like a dog. The donkey went into a mans house and started acting like a dog. This scared the man so the donkey was kicked out of the house. The donkey ended up being very confused and did not think it was fair he got kicked out because he was acting how a dog acts.”

Now that I have modeled for you how to summarize, I want to see if you all can do it on your own!

“I am going to pair each of you up with a buddy and you will go somewhere around the room and buddy read together. Each of you will get a copy of the story Its Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. After you all read you will summarize the book after filling out a worksheet to help aid your summary.” (I will have pre-determined pairs made so that students can be matched up with someone at the opposite reading level) While the students are buddy reading I will walk around the room and make sure they are reading and staying on task.

Book talk: “This story is about a boy who is working on a machine that suddenly makes it rain food! Food comes out of the sky and the town is so happy, until….”

After the students have finished reading I will hand out a worksheet for them to fill out before they begin writing their summary (this will not be done in groups it will be individual work). Worksheet: http://www.havefunteaching.com/worksheets/graphic-organizers/story-map-graphic-organizer.pdf

After the students have filled out their worksheets they will be able to write an accurate summary.

Assessment: I will assess the student’s summaries by using a rubric I found online. I will also assess the students as they are reading by walking around the room. I will also look at their graphic organizer they filled out after they finished reading the story.

References and Resources:

Its Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. http://www.amazon.com/Cloudy-Chance-Meatballs-Judi-Barrett/dp/0689707495

Short story:  http://www.kidsgen.com/short_stories/donkey_littledog.htm

Graphic Organizer: http://www.havefunteaching.com/reading-worksheets/graphic-organizers

Rubric: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/wigginsrl.html


Did the student…



Get rid of unnecessary information.



Pick out the most important information



Write a sentence that covers everything that is important information from the passage.



Student Comprehension







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