The Sum of Its Parts – Summarizing An Article

By: Kathy Walsh

Reading To Learn



Rationale: For students to become skillful readers they must use certain tools to comprehend what they read. One of the tools they must learn is summarizing, being able to tell in your own words what a piece of literature is about. You must be able to comprehend the text before you summarize it. In this lesson you will help students gain the summarization tool by choosing important information, deleting less important words, and identify the main idea as well as organizing your information into a summary.




Class set of the article: “Why Ants Never Lose Their Way”  and “Queen Bees Are Born To Rule” from DOGO News.

Highlighter for each student

Dry erase board/markers for teacher

A summarization checklist for each student.



1. “Today we are going to learn about a new tool we can use to make us better, more effective readers. This took is called summarizing. Who knows what summarizing is?” Ask students to answer. “Summarizing is when you reader the article and gather all the important information into a smaller paragraph in your own words.”

2. “Now I am going to show you how to complete the first step of summarization by highlighting important information and crossing out unimportant words. Here is article called Why Ants Never Lose Their Way.” Pass out a copy and highlighters to each student. “I will read the first paragraph out loud and I want you to think about what is important information that we would use if we were going to tell a friend about the article. How do you know what information to highlight? Follow steps:         

Delete trivia and redundancy (examples)

Superordinate terms, superordinate predicates

Generate a topic sentence from important leftover facts.

Read the first paragraph out loud. “What information should we highlight because you think it is important?  What information should I cross out?” Have students give you their answers. “If I was going to summarize this paragraph I would highlight “Ants are industrious little insects that always seem to know where they are heading” and “It's all to do with their in-built GPS systems.” I would put a line through the rest of the information. Does everyone see why I chose that information to highlight and I crossed through the other? Great, when we finish gathering all out important information then we will put it into a paragraph. The paragraph should be about one topic (main idea) and it should only contain information that you think is important if you were to tell a friend about the article.”

3. Next we will talk about some important vocabulary in the text that you may not know. I will use this instruction practice as a guideline:

1. Explain the word in simple language.

2. Model how to use the word: What does it mean? What doesn’t it mean?

3. Provide sample questions using the word.

4. Scaffold by making a sentence for students to complete using the word.

The first word is navigate.

1. Navigate means to find your way around.

2. I could say, when I go to my new school I will have to navigate around to find where each classroom is. This does not mean to remember where they are but to find it.

3. Would you navigate through the zoo? Yes.

4. When I go to _____ I have to navigate around to find where ____ is.

I will follow the same guideline for these words: industrious, antennas, ridges

4. “We are going to read the rest of the article and practice our new tool for summarizing. As you read remember to highlight the important information and cross out the unimportant information so you can easily find the information to write a summarizing paragraph at the end. I want the paragraph you right to be five sentences or less. Remember only to include the information that is important (the information you highlighted) and to write in complete sentences. Also remember to use your own words and do not copy word for word straight from the text.” Give the students 10-20 minutes to complete this assignment.

5. “Let’s talk about the information you found important from the article you read. Raise your hand and tell me one thing you highlighted from the story and why you thought it was important.” Copy the responses on the board. “Great job, this information is important and could be used in a summary of this article.”

6. “Now that we have practiced your new tool together, I am going to pass out another article called Queen Bees Are Born To Rule. This article is about how important Queen Bees are to the community. I wonder what they do to “rule” let’s read to find out. What are some things we talked about we should do when reading before we summarize the text?” Have students answer aloud. “Great, you should only write the important information and main ideas for the story. Also, make sure you include key words/vocabulary from the text. I want you to write at least 6 things you thought were important from this text and then a paragraph summarizing the important information. After you finish your work bring it and put it on my desk.” After the students complete their work, make sure they have the 6 important points and make sure they understand how to summarize the article into a paragraph. You will make a checklist of whether the students did/didn’t understand what information to highlight and what information to cross out.

7. I will assess the children’s work using this rubric:



Checklist for summarizing:


                  Did the student


Highlight important information


Mark out the repeated and unneeded information


Summarized to form a few sentences that had a main idea



“Queen Bees Are Born To Rule!”


“Why Ants Never Lose Their Way”


“Summarization is a piece of cake!!” By: Mery McMillan


“Sum It Up” By: Alex Howard


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