Summing Up the Suds


by: Joanna Holcomb

Reading to Learn Lesson

Rationale: The main purpose for reading is understanding and comprehension. Summarization is an important strategy for understanding reading. Through this lesson, students will practice their summarization skills by using a graphic organizer to help with the strategies for summarizing. The students will also work on forming a topic sentence from reading an article about bubbles.


-Poster with summarization rules to display: 
          -Get rid of unimportant information.
          -Get rid of repeated information.
          -Organize items and events under one umbrella term.
          -Select a topic.
          -Write a topic statement that covers everything that is important from       
            the text.    

-Article about bubbles, Bubblology (1 per student) ( [attached]

-Article about water, Streaming Chemistry/All About Water (1 per student) ( [attached]

-pencil, paper, markers, highlighter (1 per student)

-dry erase board and marker

- Summarization checklist

Did the Student…



Get rid of unimportant information?



Get rid of repeated information?



Organize items under one umbrella term?



Select a topic?



Write a topic statement that covers everything that is important from the passage of the text?




1. I will begin by introducing the comprehension strategy of summarizing to the students. "Today we are going to talk about summarizing. This is a great way to help us understand and remember what we read. Summarizing is kind of like recapping the most important parts of what you read."

2. Next, I will review our fluency strategy of rereading and cross-checking to understand a sentence that we are having trouble with. "Before we get into summarization, let's remember what we can do if we come across a sentence that we don't quite understand." Write 'The ducks swam up the stream looking for food.' "If I read the sentence, 'The ducks swam up the strean looking for food' I would think hmm? That sounds weird, let me read that again. 'The ducks swam up the ssttrreeaannn looking for food' strean? Ohh, stream! 'The ducks swam up the stream looking for food.' A stream is like a river. Cross-checking helps you to understand unfamiliar words."

3. Next, we would discuss the rules to summarization. "Now we are going to look at the five rules for summarizing." Show the poster to the students and read the rules out loud. "Now I want you to read this paragraph about bubbles. Once you are done we are going to summarize the paragraph together."

4. "Let's look at our paragraph…Follow along as I read out loud. There is a lot to be learned from a bubble! Bubbles can teach us about life, light and strength. The wall of a bubble has three parts. There is an outer wall made of soap or detergent, a center wall made of water, and an inner wall that is also made of soap or detergent. The inside of the bubble is filled with air. This structure of the bubble's wall is very similar to that of membranes found in living creatures like us." The first rule on our summarization rules poster says we need to get rid of unimportant information. I am going to mark out the first two sentences because this information is not crucial to know to understand our paragraph. Next, I would mark out the last two sentences, because we know that bubbles are filled with air, and we do not have to know that bubbles are similar to membranes. Our next rule is to get rid of any repeated information. I am going to cross out 'the wall of a bubble has three parts' because we read about the three parts in the next sentence. Now we are ready to organize our facts under one umbrella term, which means we are going to come up with an idea of what our article is about. Let's highlight the important phrases: 'There is an outer wall made of soap or detergent, a center wall made of water, and an inner wall that is also made of soap or detergent.' Our umbrella term is, 'Bubbles are made of three layers, two of which are soap or detergent.' Our next step is to decide on a topic for our summary. I think that the best topic would be 'Bubbles' since that is what the paragraph is about. The last step in summarizing is to come up with a topic sentence. The topic sentence is one sentence that recaps the whole paragraph, using only the most important information. So our topic sentence would be, 'Bubbles consist of three separate layers which are alternating layers of soap or detergent and water.'" I would write the topic sentence on the board.

5. "Now we are going to practice summarizing with a different article." Give a book talk on the article. "We use water every day, but what do we really know about it? There is plenty of information that we can still learn about this amazing clear liquid." Pass out a copy of the article to each child. "I want you to read this article to find out some different facts that you might not have known about water, and then you a going to summarize it. As you are reading, remember to cross out any information that is not super important to the main idea, or information that is repeated. Highlight the sentences that are important to the main idea of the article. When you are finished, you will write one topic sentence summarizing the most important information from the article. Show all of your ideas by marking and highlighting your paper, and then turn in your article and topic sentence to me when you are done."

Assessment: I will review each student's topic sentence and their marking that they and on their article. When reviewing their work, I will use the summarization checklist to make sure that they are applying the summarization rules to their understanding of creating a topic sentence.

References: Summarizing Monkey Business by Jessica Strickland (

Bubblology (

All About Water (

Return to Doorways Index