Let's Give Them SUMthing to Talk About!


A Reading to Learn Lesson

by: Lauren Thompson

Rationale: Summarization is a crucial tool for children to use while they read. They must have the ability to extract important information from a text in order to comprehend the main ideas of an article, chapter, or book that they are reading. Building summarization strategies lays a strong foundation for children to stand on as they continue to become effective readers.

Materials: "Shark Tales" article, "Dolphin Dimples Detect Electricity" article (enough for each student to have a copy), computer with SMARTboard technology, SMARTboard, poster with summarization rules, highlighter for children, pencils for children, checklist for teacher to use for assessment


1.) SAY: Good Morning, class! I hope everyone is focused and ready to learn about a new thinking tool we can use to help us when we read! The tool is called summarization. Can anyone raise their hand and tell me what they think summarization means? (call on students) Right! Summarization means that we're going to look for the main ideas of a text while we're reading and then come up with a sentence or two to "sum up" what we've just read. Also, we're going to delete things we think are unnecessary. It's important for us to use this tool because it helps us to focus on what an article, chapter, or book is really about. This will help you become better readers!

2.) SAY: Let me show you how we can summarize. First of all, I have a poster here that has the rules of summarization on it. Let's read each of these rules and talk about them.

·         Delete un-important information

·         Delete repeated information

·         Select a topic

·         Write a topic statement that covers everything important in the passage

3.) SAY: Now that we've talked about our rules, let's put them into practice. (On SMARTboard, write sample sentence: Brad likes to eat Reese's Cups, Snickers, Three Musketeers, and Skittles.) While looking at this sentence, I can see right away that it has a lot of information in it that can be summarized very easily. What is a simple word that we can use instead of all the names of what he eats? (Candy) Very good! So, instead of saying he likes all of these things, we can cross them out and say, "Brad likes to eat candy." Let's try another sentence. (Jessica, Anna, Roger, Trent, and Katie like to swing on the swings, go down the slide, hang on the monkey bars, and climb the ladders at the Optimist Club park.) This is a long sentence! Who can raise their hand and tell me something that we can change about this sentence? We'll write down what you think we should change over here. (Listen to suggestions and write them down on the SMARTboard) You guys are getting the hang of it! Someone said we could cross out all of their names and put the word "they" at the beginning of the sentence. Someone else said we could cross out all of the things they like to do and just put "play". These are both great ideas! Let me ask you something, though. Does it really matter WHERE they played? (No) No, it doesn't. We can cross out "Optimist Club" and that leaves us with "park". Here's our sentence now. "They like to play at the park". Great job, everyone!

4.) SAY: Now we're going to read an article and we're going to see if we can come up with the main idea of the article. It has a lot of information in it but we're just looking for what it is mostly about. I'm going to highlight information that I think is important and cross out information I don't think we need. (Put article on SMARTboard) The first thing I notice is that they're talking about shark attacks. Let's see if the article continues to talk about shark attacks. (Continue reading) Yes, it continues to talk about shark attacks. Oh, look! It says that shark attacks are rare. That seems important. Let's go ahead and highlight that. (Continue reading) I don't think we need to know exactly how many people are attacked by sharks so let's cross that out. (Continue reading article while highlighting and crossing out information) Now it's time to come up with a sentence that summarizes this entire article. Don't panic! Let's look at the information we've highlighted and put it together so that we can come up with our sentence. (Discuss what you've highlighted) I think we can combine all of that information, don't you? My main idea sentence would be: "Shark attacks are extremely rare and are usually a case of mistaken identity."

5.) SAY: We're going to be reading another article today but we need to define a couple of words first so that you know what they mean when you come across them. This article is about dolphins. Before we define our terms, let's write down what we know about dolphins. Raise your hand and tell me what you know about dolphins. (Write down facts on SMARTboard) Wow! You know a lot about dolphins! Let's go ahead and define our terms. The first word is "benthic". Everyone say that with me. "Benthic". Benthic means that is lives on the ocean floor. Which animal would be benthic: a crab or a jellyfish? (Crab) Great! Who else can come up with a sentence where we CAN use that word? (Call on student) Excellent! Our next word is "sensory". Everyone say that with me. "Sensory". Sensory means that it has something to do with our five senses. Our five senses are touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell. An example sentence would be: "We use part of our sensory system when we smell fresh-baked bread." Which part of our sensory system would we be using if we ate a cookie? (taste)

6.) SAY: Now we're going to get into groups of two and read our article. Remember the definitions of those words we talked about! While you're reading I want you to highlight information that you think is important and cross out information you don't think is necessary. Look up here at the shark article if you need help deciding if a piece of information is important or not. Don't forget to look at our summarization rules! After you have finished, I'm going to be calling you up to show me your main idea sentence. Happy reading!

7.) Call students up as they finish so that you may look at their sentences and the things that they have highlighted and crossed out. Use checklist below.


When summarizing, did the student…



Delete unimportant information?

Delete repeated information?

Organize items with a big idea?

Select a topic?

Write an inclusive, simple topic sentence to summarize the passage?


Explain to students that, if they receive a "No", they should review their work and correct it. I will then ask them to bring it back up to see what corrections they have made to make sure they are on the right track.


"Shark Tales" http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/0505/articles/mainarticle.html

Ornes, Stephen. "Dolphin Dimples Detect Electricity" http://www.sciencenewsforkids.org/2011/08/dolphin-dimples-detect-electricity/

Lesson Design: Backer, Katie. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/doorways/backerrl.htm


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