Simple Steps, Sum it Up!


Reading to Learn

Kristi Woods

Rationale: An important goal of reading is comprehension. One of the necessary strategies of reading comprehension is summarizing. Students are able to pick out the main points and important details when they summarize a text. In this lesson students will learn the 4 steps of summarizing and practice them to recall information.


Copies of National Geographic Online's The Secret Language of Dolphins for each student. This article can be found at:

A bookmark for each student with the 3 summarization steps typed on it

          Summarization steps:

1.     Pick out important details that are necessary to the story

2.     Pick out the less important ideas from the passage and delete them

3.     Pick a topic sentence 

White board

Dry erase markers

Article from newspaper





1.     "We have been practicing reading silently, in our heads, and we are going to do that again today.  Remember that when we read silently we read the words with our eyes and not with our mouths. Why is it good for us to read silently? Yes, that is correct. Reading silently helps us remember what we read better. After we read silently, we are going to learn how to summarize what we just read."

2.     Discuss with the students the steps to creating a summary of a story. "Can anyone tell me what it means to summarize a story?" Allow time for children to answers. When you summarize a story you pick out the most important and meaningful parts of what you read."

3.     "There are 3 steps to creating a summary that you will learn today." Hand each student a bookmark. "On this bookmark are the 4 steps to creating a summary and I think it will be helpful to keep with you as you read silently.  The first step is to pick out the important details that are necessary to the story. The second step is to pick out the least important details in the story and delete them. The final step is to pick a topic sentence."

4.     "Now I am going model to you how to create a summary using an article from the newspaper." Demonstrate on the board the steps of creating a summary with the newspaper article. "I am going to ask myself questions like, what is the author trying to tell me about the topic and what subject seems to be mentioned more than once?"

5.     Pass out the The Secret Language of Dolphins article for every student. "Today, we are going to read this article about dolphins and summarize it. You will first read silently and then work with a partner to create the summary." Give a brief introduction to the article. "Before we begin reading, I want to first introduce a few vocabulary words to you."

Vocabulary: 1. Mammal- a class of air-breathing animals that contain hair. 2. Nonverbally- not involving or using words or speech. 3. Squawk- to make a loud, harsh noise. 4. Decipher- convert into a normal language. "Now that we have gone over our vocabulary words, you may begin reading silently."

6.     After the students read, have them individually write down the important facts from the article on a sheet of paper.

7.     Group the students into pairs to create the summary of the article. Review with the students the 3 steps of creating a summary. Walk around the room to help the students with questions and make sure they are staying on task.

8.     I will take up the summaries of the article and use them as an assessment for the students' knowledge of summarization and comprehension of the article.


 So What Are You Trying To Say Here? Leigh Anne Brace htttp://

Summarizing the Good Stuff . Whitni DeNamur.

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