Super Summarizers

Super Dog 

Kathryn Mangum

Reading to Learn Design


Children must learn strategies that aid them in reading comprehension. Children must learn how to focus on the main idea of the reading in order to increase comprehension. Summarizing is a way for a child to learn how to pick out the important information. Students need to be taught how to eliminate the trivial information and how to pick out what's important. They have to be taught to substitute subordinate for a list of items and create a topic sentence. If children learn these strategies and use them they will become better reads and be able to summarize information. 




Chart paper

12" x 12" pieces of poster board


Copies of the article "The Secret Language of Dolphins" (National Geographic for Kids - for each student

Checklist for each student with the following:

            1. delete unimportant information

`           2. delete repeated information

            3. substitute easy words for list items

            4. add a series of events with an easy action term

            5. select a topic

            6. invent a topic sentence if there is not already one


1. Begin the lesson by discussing what summarizing is and why it is important. Ask the class if anyone knows what summarizing is. Explain that the word summarize means to take out the main points of the story and put them together to make a summary, a few sentences that describe what the article is about. When you are reading you summarize in your head by deleting the less important parts of the story and making note of the important ones. Let's work together to summarize this book we just read (work with the class to summarize a book that they have recently read). Today we are going to work on learning how to summarize but first we are going to review how to read silently first.

2.  When we read silently, we read quietly just to ourselves. We ask ourselves questions to help figure out the story. Today we are going to read a story about dolphins, it is called 'The Secret Language of Dolphins.' Can anyone think of what this article is about? (listen to children's responses). Now we are going to read part of the article together and then we will go back to pick out the important parts, summarize. 'Deciphering "dolphin speak" is also tricky because their language is so dependent on what they're doing, whether they're playing, fighting, or going after tasty fish. It's no different for humans. Think about when you raise a hand to say hello. Under other circumstances, the same gesture can mean good-bye, stop, or that something costs five bucks. It's the same for dolphins. During fights, for example, dolphins clap their jaws to say "back off!" But they jaw clap while playing, too, as if to show who's king of the underwater playground.' Now I am going to think about which parts were important. Dolphin's language changes depending on what they are doing was a main point and they said that dolphin's expressions are different like human's. Now that I have picked out the important parts I am going to write a topic sentence. Dolphins much like humans talk differently depending on the situation making it difficult for us to decipher it. Now that we have practiced together read this article about a duck-billed dinosaur and practice summarizing.

3. Ok, now that you have read the story let's learn the six steps of summarizing. (write on chart paper) 1. Delete unimportant information. 2. Delete repeated information 3. Substitute easy words for lists of items 4. Add a series of events with an easy action term. 5. Select a topic 6. Invent a topic sentence if there is not one.  It is important to delete unimportant information because it will distract us from the main point of the article. When we substitute easy words for lists of items, we are able to shorten the amount of information we have to remember.  For example, we may want to remember a list such as chickens, cows, horses, eggs, pigs, and sheep.  We may want to simplify this list by calling it Farm Animals.  We can place each of these animals under the topic of Farm Animals to help us recall them.  We can add a series of events with an action term to help us recall a passage as well.  Then we can select a topic of the events in our passage and create a topic sentence that describes the passage we have read.

4. Let's talk about what you read in the article together.  I am going to draw a picture on the chart paper.  This drawing is called a web.  Webs help us organize our information and understand what we know.  Remember to look at the summary checklist on our other chart.  Where do I put the main topic on our web?  (the middle) Very good!  What should I put in the middle of the web?  (dolphin's language)   Who can give me a main point from the article on frogs?  Call upon the students and record their comments on the web.  Explain that we should be able to create a paragraph that summarizes the entire article.  You can use the web to help you create your summary by using some of the facts that have been listed.  Each section on our web can be used to create a sentence to help create a short paragraph.

5. Tell that students that you are now going to pass out poster board to every pair of students and they are to work together to summarize the article, remind them to use their checklist to do their summarization.

6. To assess the students I will compare their checklists to their webs. They will also individually write a brief paragraph summary based on their web. I will assess their ability be making sure they have followed the steps of the checklist.


1. National Geographic for Kids – Crispin Boyer

2. National Geographic for Kids – Catherine Clark Fox

3. Let's Get It Together – Lizzie Fain

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