On Your Mark, Get Set, Summarize!

Ellen Haynes


Rational:  Summarization is an important part of comprehending text.  In order to do this, students must be able to find key points and main ideas throughout a story.  Throughout this lesson, students will learn how to find and use important details and the main idea of the story to summarize the text. They will do this by underlining important points and crossing out the non-important ones.


Materials: Pencil, paper, passage example on smartboard, class copies of “Disappearing Dollar” article from Time for Kids, class copies of the checklist




 1.   The teacher will say, “Today we are going to learn how and why readers need to summarize. Can anyone tell me what it means to pick out the main idea of a story?” (Allow enough time for students to think and answer.) “Great! The main idea tells what a paragraph is about. Details help explain and support the main idea. If the main idea is not started, the reader can look at supporting details to figure out what it is. What do you think summarizing means?” (Allow enough time for students to answer the questions). “That’s right! A summary is a short statement of the most important ideas in the paragraph, a section, or a whole selection. Summarizing helps readers understand and remember what they read.”


2.    Say:  “Now I am going to read an example passage for you on the Smartboard. I am going to underline the important information and cross out the information that is not important. (Read the first paragraph in “Disappearing Dollar” by Kelli Plasket. Explain why you underlined some things and crossed out others. Ex: I am underlining this sentence “Congress’s Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction is considering a proposal to end production of the $1 bill in favor of the $1 coin” because it helps me figure out what the story is about. However, I am crossing this sentence “Paper money only lasts about 42 months before it needs to be replaced.” out because it is not important to whole story.) Have a different passage printed out for each student. “Now, we are going to do this one together. First I want you to read the passage and underline the important information while crossing the not so important information out. Ready? Go! (Allow enough time for the students to read the passage and mark the appropriate things.) As a class, the teacher will ask the questions: What did you underline in this passage?  What ideas were important?  What information did you cross out and why?” (The teacher will call upon several students in order for students to get a better understanding of how to summarize a text). “Can someone now use the details that you underlined to make a summary? (Call on several students to tell their summary.)


3.    Say:  “How did crossing out the unimportant details and underlining the important ones help you with your summary? (The teacher will call upon several students to answer the question). Great answers!  Having the important details and ideas underlined helped us see what we need to include in our summary. Also, summarization helps us to better understand what we have just read.  Today, we are going to practice summarizing a text by reading the second paragraph of “Disappearing Dollar” written by Kelli Plasket. This section titled ‘An Unpopular Coin’ talks about how the Federal Reserve wants to start using 1 dollar coins instead of dollar bills.”


4.     Say: “Everyone needs to pay close attention as you read the story silently to yourselves.  As you read this section, remember to cross out any information that can be considered unnecessary and underline important details and the main ideas of the text.  This will help you be able to quickly write out a summary.  After you have finished reading the story, I want you to summarize what you read in the text in 5 sentences or less. Use the information that you underlined to do this. This has to be in your own words. Also, remember to use proper English and write using complete sentences and punctuation.    (The teacher will pass out the class copies of “Disappearing Dollar”.  The teacher will give students 5-10 minutes to read and summarize ‘An Unpopular Coin’).


5.    Say: “Now that you have finished, I will call on a few of you to read your summary. Everyone needs to listen and see if you put down some of the same important ideas as your friend that is sharing.” (Call on several students and have them read their summary.) “Great job! These are all great summaries!”


6.     Say:  “Now that you have had practice summarizing a text together, I want you to write another summary on the last section of this article titled ‘A Two-Sided Coin Debate.’ What are some things that we should remember about summarizing a text? (The teacher will call upon students to answer the question).  Great answers! You should only write the important details and main ideas in a story.  After you have finished summarizing this section of the article, I will collect your papers. I will read these summaries and grade them using this checklist. I am going to give you the same checklist so follow it and make sure you include everything that you need. (The teacher will take up the student’s papers and read them in order to make sure that students understand how to summarize a piece of text.)



·         “Disappearing Dollar” by Kelli Plasket published by Time For Kids


·         The Reading Genie-Invitations Website: IV Reading to Learn Lesson Designs

http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invitations.html `


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(4 Points)


(2 Points)


(0 Points)

Underlined all important ideas




Crossed out all non-important ideas




Wrote in complete sentences




Used proper punctuation




Wrote at least 5 important ideas in the summary




                                                                                                                     Total Points _____/20