Super, Successful Summarizers


Reading to Learn

Erin Stephan



The more students read the more successful they become at reading. To truly be successful reader students must learn to understand the information and pull out the meaning from the text. The goal of reading is comprehension. One way to teach comprehension is by teaching students how to summarize. In order to summarize text successfully students must be able to delete trivial facts and redundancies, situate items and events in order, and create a statement that includes everything the writer is trying to convey. Having the knowledge of how to generate a summary will allow readers to better interpret the texts that they read.


-Chart paper with the first three sentences from Feeling the Heat written on it
-Chart paper with 'Successful Summarizers' written on it
-Copy of Feeling the Heat for each student,27972,1575076,00.html

 -Highlighter for each student
-Copy of 'Super Summary' worksheet for each student:

            Deleted Information                  Main Ideas                   Summary Sentence


1. I will begin the lesson by explaining to the students, "Have you ever read something and when you finished you did not what the point of it was? Today, we are going to learn a new reading strategy that will help us better comprehend the text that we read. I have forgotten what comprehend mean; can somebody explain it to me?" Have a student explain what it means to comprehend. Definition: to understand, or grasp the meaning of something. "Good! There is a comprehension strategy we are going to learn that will help us better understand text. This skill is called summarizing. Who thinks they know what it means to summarize? It means to pick out the important information and main points in a shortened version. It takes a lot of practice to be able to identify the main points and create a summary. I am going to model how to do it, so we can become more comfortable with the strategy."

2. I will give a book talk about the article the students are going to read. "We are going to read the article Feeling the Heat from Time for Kids. This article is about polar bears. Polar bears live in really cold weather, on ice. With the Earth getting warmed so is the sea. The sea is starting to melt the ice and the homes of the polar bear. What is going to happen if the ice keeps melting?" Pass out a copy of the article to each student.

3. "I have written the first three sentences of the article on chart paper. As I read it aloud I want you to follow along, and then we are going to pick out the important information." Read the following sentences off the chart paper aloud:

    Polar bears live on sea ice above the Arctic Circle. About 20,000 polar bears can be found on Earth. Nearly 5,000 live in Alaskan waters.

4. Model how to summarize a passage. "I am going to model how to summarize text. The first step is to take out, or cross out, any unnecessary information. Let's see, I don't think we need to know how many polar bears live in Alaskan waters so we will cross that out." Cross out the sentence: Nearly 5,000 live in Alaskan waters. "The second step is to find the important information the author has given us. I think 'Polar bears live on sea ice' and 20,000 polar bears can be found on Earth's are important pieces of information. The final step is to create a sentence that puts the important information together. Polar bears live on sea ice, and about 20,000 are on Earth." Write the summary on the chart paper below the passage.

5. "Before you get a turn at summarizing, let's review the three steps you need to be a successful summarizer. Who remembers what I did first?" Allow a student to answer. Write the first step on a piece of chart paper with the heading 'Successful Summarizers'
    1. Delete unimportant details and repeated details

"Good! After I got rid of the unimportant information, what did I do?" Write step two on the chart paper.
    2. Organize items and events

"Finally, what was my last step?" Write step three on the chart paper.
    3. Create a sentence that covers what the author is saying about the topic.

 6. "Now it is your turn. You are going to read the rest of the article silently. The reason we are reading it silently is so you can concentrate on finding the main ideas. I am going to pass out highlighters so you can highlight the main ideas. Feel free to use your pencil to cross out information that is not important." Pass out a highlighter to each student. "Remember to look at our new 'Successful Summarizers' chart. Once you have read the article you are going to fill out the 'Super Summary' worksheet. Put the deleted information in the first column, the main ideas the second, and your summary sentences in the third." Pass out worksheets to the students.

Asses the student's summarizing strategy by looking over their 'Super Summary' worksheet. If a student's worksheet is not filled out sufficiently then ask them oral comprehension question.

Why could polar bears be on the endangered list?
What is to blame for the ice melting, and what effect does this have on polar bears?

Satterfield, Kathryn R. Feeling the Heat. Time for Kids. Vol. 12 Iss. 14. January 12, 2007.,27972,1575076,00.html

 Clabby, Caitlin. Tell Me All About It!

Return to Encounter's Index