All Together Now!

Christine MacPherson


Rationale: Obtaining phoneme awareness and fluency are the building blocks for successful readers. Why do we want children to be successful readers? We want children to be successful readers so that they can gain knowledge and pleasure from reading through comprehension. Knowing how to decode words is wonderful, but obtaining meaning from words read is the ultimate goal. Summarization is one strategy that enables comprehension because readers are focusing on the main ideas of the texts read. This lesson will teach children how to summarize what they have read in order to increase their interpretation of what they have read.





1. Copy of the National Geographic article "Amazing Bats of Braken Cave" by Catherine Clarke Fox


2. One copy for every student of the National Geographic "Crabs Clean Up" by Catherine Clarke Fox


3. Assessment sheet to make sure the children have summarized correctly

 4. Overhead Projector


5. Paper and Pen


6. Pencils



1. The first step when teaching children how to summarize is to explain why summarization is important. "Sometimes when you read you should try to find out what the main idea of the story is. In order to do this you must pick out the big parts of the story and not pay as much attention to the small parts of the story. This is called summarization or creating a summary."


2.  The second step when teaching children to summarize is to model summarization for them. Begin the lesson by placing the article "Amazing Bats of Braken Cave" on the overhead projector. Make sure the article is clear and big enough for the children to read easily. "Alright everyone, we are all going to read this neat article about these bats that live in Texas. Read silently to yourself and look at me when you are finished so that I know when everyone has finished the article." Below is the first part of the article.


          The sun is setting on a summer night. At the entrance to a deep, dark cave, a few bats fly out and begin swirling high up into the air. More and more of the small, furry creatures appear. Within a few minutes, a whole river of bats is pouring out of the cave, and they keep coming, millions and millions of them.

3. After the children finish reading the article, place a plain sheet of paper on the projector and write these three tips. 1. Get rid of unnecessary information. 2. Create umbrella terms which can be used to sum up similar groups of words. 3. Write one or two summarizing sentences. After writing these tips on the board, explain how to apply these tips to the article. Below is an example of how to summarize the first paragraph of "Amazing Bats of Braken Cave."

            1. ''Now let‚s look at this first paragraph. This information does not really tell us the main idea of the story. Remember the first step of summarization is to get rid of unnecessary information'' Make sure you mark out these parts of the article with your pen.

            Sun is setting.

            At the entrance of a deep

            A few bats fly out and begin swirling high.

            More and more of the small furry creatures appear.

            Within a few minutes, a whole river of bats is pouring.

            And they keep coming

            2. ''Now let's try to come up with some umbrella words for the words left over from step one.'' Circle the relevant information of the article with your pen.

           Swirling high;whole river of bats  pouring=  flying
           they, them, small furry creatures = bats

            3. "We have gotten rid of the unnecessary information and found the main ideas. Now we need to put the main ideas into a sentence." Write the sentence on the paper.

            On a summer night millions of bats were seen flying out of a dark cave.

4. The teacher should continue this process for the entire article and ask the children to help for each paragraph. After modeling how to create a summary, give the students each a copy of "Crabs Clean Up." This article is similar to the above article. Both articles are fairly short and have both main ideas and unnecessary details. Fluent readers will be able to read the articles and practice the three step summary plan. "This article is about how useful crabs can be in the ocean. I want all of you to read this article silently and then go through the three step summary plan. On your own paper I would like you to write your sentence. Please staple your sentence to your article and put it in the „classworkš basket."

5. Go over the article with the children so that they can see where they made mistakes and where they did well. Talk with them about the unnecessary information and the main ideas.  Allow the children to share their summary sentences if they wish.

6. When assessing the student‚s work, follow the rubric below. See if children were able to pick out what was relevant and irrelevant to the main idea of the article. Summarization activities like this should be done often in the classroom because it gives children reading practice, knowledge, and enhances their comprehension. Below is a model of the three-step summary rubric.

Did the student∑

All or mostly


Hardly or not at all

Identify information that was irrelevant?




Create  Umbrella  Words




Create a summary sentence that made sense and tied everything together?






Fox, Catherine. Amazing Bats of Braken Cave. National Geographic Kids. 1996-2007.


Fox, Catherine. Crabs Clean Up. National Geographic Kids. 1996-2007.


Rubric inspired by Jessie Wiggins. „Let‚s Get to the Pointš


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