Summarizing is Superb!!!

Reading to Learn


Anna Hughes


 Comprehension is one of the most important things to teach to children while they are learning how to read.  A good way to help children comprehend text is to summarize.  To be able to read and recall information from an expository text, children need instruction in summarization.  By deleting trivial information, deleting redundant information, substituting superordinate terms for a list of items, and creating a topic sentence, students will be able to remember factual information better.



 Copies of National Geographic Kids or internet access to their website for this lesson we will use the article Can Jaguars and People Live Together?



Paper and Pencils for each student

Teacher Summarization checklist for each pair of students


 1.  Introduce the lesson by explaining what it means to summarize a text.  Today we are going to practice understanding what we read.  Understanding what we read is very important.  It helps us recognize what happens in a story, and it helps us relate the story to our own lives.  Today we are going to practice summarizing a story.  Summarizing means to find the most important information in a story.  Stories contain a lot of information, and only some of it – the most important parts – help us understand what happens.  Today we are going to practice finding the main idea and supporting details of that main idea.

2.  “Okay, next we are going to review how we read silently.  You pull out a book and read each page silently to yourself.  You do not talk to anyone around you, and you do not read so the person next to you can hear you.  Watch me read silently.”  Take out a book and model how to read silently for a few seconds.  “See, that’s how we read silently.  Now, I want you to pull out your library books and show me that you know how to read silently.”  Have students pull out books and read silently for a few moments.

3.  Explain the 3 steps to summarizing to the students and write them on the board in words that the students will understand: pick out important items and events, get rid of unnecessary information, and find and compose a statement that covers everything that writer is saying about the topic.

4.   “Now I am going to show you how to do this by using one of the paragraphs in your Science books.”

5.  Pass out the Jaguar article to the students.  “Today we are going to read this article and summarize it.  You will read it silently and then you will work with a partner to summarize it.”  Give a quick talk about the article (like a book talk, do not simply summarize it because that is what the students will be doing.)

6.  Have the students begin reading, after they have read through the article, have them write down important information on a separate sheet of paper.  This will help them visually see the information.

7.  Then, in pairs, the students will summarize the article.  Remind them to use the summarizing steps.  Walk around the room as they are summarizing to make sure that everyone is on the right track.  Give feedback to students as you walk around. 

8. For assessment, take up all papers to see if the students are successfully using the summarization strategy.  Meet with any group that needs further help.  Evaluate the paragraphs using the following checklist:

·                  Does the group have a main idea sentence?

·                  Does the group have at least 3 good supporting details?

·                  Do the supporting details actually support the group’s main idea?


 Estill, Laura. Some Simple Rules to Sum it Up!

 Ives, Sarah.  Can jaguars and people live together?  National Geographic Kids News.

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