Summing Up with

Polar Bears


Reading to Learn

 By: Constance Wood



The goal of reading is to comprehend the text.  Summarization is a strategy that allows students to take the important information from a passage and remember it for further use, while disregarding unimportant or trivial information. This way, the students can better comprehend the text.  The purpose of this lesson will be to teach students how to summarize by asking themselves questions and learning the important steps of summarization.



Handout of National Geographic Article “Polar Bears Listed as Threatened”

Summarization Handout


White board

Dry erase markers



First, tell the students they will be reading an article about Polar Bears.  Refresh their minds by reminding them how to read silently.  Be sure to tell them that reading silently means that they do not talk with their neighbor and show them how to follow along closely with the text and even how to reread the passage if they are unclear about a portion of it.  

Say, “Today we are going to learn how to summarize an article after we silently read it to ourselves first.  This will help you understand what you read in the future and get the most out of your reading.”

Build Background Knowledge: “Let’s talk a little about Polar Bears. Where do polar bears live? The arctic, good. What do polar bears eat? Seals.”  Make a chart of information students give about polar bears (building background knowledge) “What does it mean to be an endangered animal? What about an extinct animal? The article Polar Bears Listed as Threatened is about why polar bears are endangered. However, the article does tell us how we can prevent this as a nation. Let’s read on to find out what we can do.”

Have students read the article silently.

Wait until all children are finished reading.  Say: Okay, I think we’ve all finished are article now.  Now we’re going to learn how to summarize what we’ve just finished reading.  Does anyone know what summarization means? Great job! To summarize means that you have picked out the important information from an article or story.  There are several important steps to remember when summarizing a story.  Write the steps on the board as you explain to the class.




Delete unimportant information.

Delete repeated information.

Substitute easy terms for list of items

Write a series of events.

Select a topic.

Find the topic sentence, or make one if there is not one.

As you explain each step to the students, model the procedure and answer questions they have.  Say: These are just a few steps that will make summarization a little easier for you.  If I read an article about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I don’t need to remember what brand of jelly used in the article or if they used white or wheat bread. I need to remember the main points that it hit on.  For instance, I would need to remember to smooth peanut butter on one slice of bread.  After that, I would smooth jelly on a second slice of bread.  Next I need to put the two pieces of bread together, sticky sides touching.  Those would be the main points of the article.

Stop at this point and have the students mark out unimportant information in the article. Talk about the deleted information aloud. “We do not need to remember about the Secretary of the Interior, etc.” (See attached article with marked through information)

Now have the students write each piece of important information that is left on their Summarization Sheet.

Once students have done this, say “Now we can look at the important information and decide what the article was about and how we can say it in one to two sentences. This is called summarizing.” Have students write their own summaries based on facts on Summarization Sheet.


 I will read their Summarization Sheet to check whether they understood the article that they just finished reading.  They should have included the main ideas or key points from the article.



Polar Bear Article:

Summarization Lesson Plan by Casey Walker:



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