Sum It Up!

Reading to Learn

Amanda Kaye Owens


Rationale: Comprehension is the goal of reading.  A great strategy for students to use in comprehension is to summarize the information.  In this lesson students learn to identify important and less important details of a text in creating a summary. 


Materials:  Highlighters and Black markers for each child

                   Copies of “Are Plastic Bags Harming the Environment? “ National   Geographic for Kids. Reported by John Roach and written by Sara Ives. April 5,2004.



  1. “Today we are going to learn how create a summary of text we read.  Creating a summary means finding the most important parts and putting them in a shorter form than the original.  Summaries can help us tell a friend the information in a quick way.”
  2. “Follow along with me as I read this paragraph and make a summary.  (Have it written on the board) Lets remember that we are reading silentlty. Our eyes move but our lips do not. Now I will read this paragraph silently to myself.  “It was raining when I looked outside this morning.  So I put on my rain coat. I put my  boots on too.  The coat is yellow and the boots are red.  I will stay dry.”
  3. “Now let’s go through and highlight some important things in this paragraph.  The main idea of the paragraph is that it was raining and the person put on rain gear.  Raining is an important word so I am going to highlight it, but the rest of the sentence is not that important so I am going to mark it out.  We can also mark out the two sentences that describe the rain gear because it can be made into one.  The colors and parts of the rain gear are important so I will highlight those.  Now I have all the important parts of this paragraph highlighted in yellow.  I can easily remember what the main idea of this paragraph is.  Now let’s take all the highlighted information and make a short summary of this paragraph.” Allow students to help you come up with a summary.  Note using the highlighted words and marking out the unimportant ones.
  4. “Now it’s your turn.! This is an article from National Geographic about Pollution from grocery bags.  Everyone take a highlighter and black marker and read this article silently to yourself.  Then mark the important information that will help you remember the main ideas.  Mark out the less important information.” Allow students time to read and share their ideas.
  5. “Now use the highlighted parts to make a summary of this article. Remember a summary is written in your own words and has only important information in it.”
  6. “When you are done share your summary with a partner. Talk about how they are similar and different.”

Assessment: Take up each students summary and check for including important details and deleting unimportant ones.





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Short and Sweet

Lindsay Bailey

Auburn University


“Are Plastic Bags Harming The Environment?” National Geographic Online.  November 15, 2004.