Whale, aren’t you good at reading!

Reading to learn

Lauren Thomas


Comprehension is very important for readers of any skill level. If a reader cannot understand what they are reading, there is little motivation to keep doing it. A student, who cannot understand what they read, will not be able to learn, because by third grade, students are no longer learning to read, and they are reading to learn. By summarizing, students are learning to pick out important information so they can comprehend the story more quickly. In this lesson, students will focus on deleting irrelevant information so that they can remember the most important facts.


“Blue Whales” article


Smart board

Poster with summarization rules





1. Today we are going to talk about summarization. Who can raise their hand and tell me what summarization means? Right, it means that we pick out the most important things we just read, and we are going to delete the unnecessary information. Remember yesterday when we read the jellyfish article; since Betsy wasn’t here, she needs to know what it was about. We don’t want to spend all day, so let’s delete the unnecessary information and tell her what she really needs to know. Make a brief list as students volunteer information that is important and that is not, then call on student to use list to make a summary.

2. Now let’s look at the rules of summarization together and read them aloud. After reading each rule, teacher will explain how to use this strategy.

Delete un-important information

Delete repeated information

Select a topic

Write a topic statement that covers everything important in the passage

3. Now, everyone look at the smart board. We are going to read this article aloud together as a class. After reading the article, use the black marker to cross out information that is not important. Then, use the red pen to underline important information presented in the article. Who can point out a sentence that can be deleted from our summary? Right, the second sentence is not important to our summary, so we can mark that out.

In 1992, the mother of a North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) was hit and killed by a ship in Canada’s Bay of Fundy. Researchers studying these whales named the 8-month-old baby Calvin because they knew that in order for it to survive, it would need to be feisty, like the character in the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes.

4. Who can tell me what this passage is about? What is the point the author is trying to make? So a good topic statement for this passage would read: the blue whale is the largest mammal in the world, everything that they do is related to their giant size.

5. Send students back to their seats. Now I will give you your very own article, we are going to continue learning about whales, but this time you need to find what is important all on your own. I want you to read this article and highlight information you find important, and cross out INFORMATION that is unnecessary just like we did as a class. Once you have done that, I want you to write a topic sentence that mentions the main points of this article.

6. Students will be assessed using the following checklist:

Did the student?



Comprehend the information from the passage?

Delete unnecessary information from the passage?

Highlight important information from the passage?

Write at least one sentence that includes all important information in the passage? Evaluate this sentence for comprehension.

If a student receives a “no”, they will be given the article back in order to correct their mistakes. This way, they will truly understand how to properly summarize a passage.


“Blue Whales”http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/blue-whales/

“Slow Down for Calvin the Right Whale”http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/animalsnature/slowdownforcalvin/

Lesson design: Caine, Brittany. “Let’s get to summarizing!”http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invitations/cainrl.htm