1, 2, 3 Let’s Make a Summary!  

Reading to Learn

By: Amanda Svagdis

Rationale: Comprehension is very important when it comes to successful reading and the skill of summarizing helps to assess comprehension. Children should be able to pick out the important points in passages every time they read and in order for them to do this, they must be explicitly taught. Practicing summarization with this exercise will help them achieve this, and sharing it with the group is a motivator.


- Highlighters

- Pencils

- National Geographic article: "Emperor Penguins" on the Smart Board

- National Geographic article: "Harp Seals": one per student

- Summarizing poster with 3 points:

1. Get rid of unnecessary information.

2. Pick out the most important information.

3. Write one to two sentences that include only the important information and conclusions drawn from the passage.

- Assessment Checklist:

Did the Student:



Get rid of unnecessary information?



Pick out the most important information from the article?



Write a one to two sentence summary including important information and conclusions?





1.)  "Today, we are going to learn an important skill that will help make you all better readers. Have you heard of the word summarization?" Have students share what they think summarization is.

2.)  Explain: "Summarization is the process of erasing unnecessary information in what we read and picking out the main, important facts that we need to understand the story." Explain the steps on the poster: 1.) Getting rid of unnecessary information, 2.) Picking out the most important information, 3.) Write a one or two sentence summary.

3.)  Let's read "Emperor Penguins" and I will show you how to summarize articles.

Book Talk: "Emperor Penguins live in Antarctica. They have ways to adapt to the frigid weather and survive. This article describes how these penguins breed and how the baby penguins survive. Let’s find out more about these cute creatures!”

4.)  First paragraph:

"Winter arrives in Antarctica in March. The continent is in the Southern Hemisphere and has seasons that are opposite those in the north. Nearly all creatures leave except for the emperor, the only animal that spends the winter on Antarctica's open ice. Emperor penguins are the largest of the 17 species, or kinds, of penguins, and they spend their entire lives on Antarctic ice and in its waters.”

First, I am going to get rid of unnecessary details. List:

-  Winter arrives in Antarctica in March

-  The Southern Hemisphere has seasons that are opposite of the north

Now I am going to choose the most important details that are about our topic emperor penguins. List:

-         The emperor penguin is the only animal that spends the winter on Antarctica’s open ice

-         They are the largest species on penguin

Finally I am going to write a one sentence summary:

"The emperor penguin is the largest species of penguin and is the only animal that spends the winter in Antarctica’s open ice.”

5.)  "Let's practice our new skill by reading “Harp Seals”. Read the article silently then mark out the unnecessary information with your pencil. Highlight the key information. Write one or two sentence summary of what you have read."

6.)  "Now I want you work with a partner and share what you did to summarize your articles." Allow about 10 minutes for groups to discuss their summaries.

7.)  "Now can I please have some volunteers share their summaries with the class?" Point out the positive attributes of the students' summaries and suggest some things that they still need to work on, if any.

8.)  Assessment: Students will be assessed on their summarization sentences.  I will use a checklist stated above to assess their progress. Students are required to earn at least 2 out of the 3 checks out of the three bullets. I will use this information to determine which kids need to work more on this skill and work in a small group with them on a later date.


Gluckman, Amanda. “Long Story Short”. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/projects/gluckmanrl.html


Hughes, Catherine.  Natinoal Geographic. “Emperor Penguins”. http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/sites/kids/NGS/wpf/printcreature/emperor-penguin.html  


National Geographic.  “Harp Seals”. http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/sites/kids/NGS/wpf/printcreature/emperor-penguin.html


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