Reading to Learn

Sum It Up!

Alison Bradley



Rationale: Through this lesson, children will be learning to summarize the text they are reading. Once students can learn to summarize the text, they will ultimately understand the text, and find meaning out of what they read.



A class copy of Miss Nelson is Missing By: Harry Allard and James Marshall  (Houghton Miifflin C0.  1985)

          Highlighters for each child

          Dry Erase Board and Marker

          Checklist (included)        


1.      Begin the lesson with a review of silent reading. "Can anyone tell me what silent reading is? Good, it is when we keep our mouths silent and read to ourselves in our minds. Does anyone remember why it is a good idea to read silently? Right, it helps us remember what we read.

2.  Now we are going to learn a new idea that helps us understand our text even more. Does anyone know what is means to summarize a story? Well, it means to give a shorter version of a story, or event, telling only the most important parts. Today we are going to learn how to summarize what we read using just a few steps. Once I explain it to you, you can practice summarizing stories on your own."

3.      I will teach the students the five basic steps used in summarization and write these on the board as I explain. "There are five steps that you can use to help you summarize a story:

Step 1: Pick out important details that are necessary to the story.
Step 2: Pick out the less important or repeated ideas from the story and eliminate them.

Step 3: Highlight the important details using keywords.

Step 4:  List keywords in the order that they appeared in the passage.

Step 5: Cut down the list of key words into just one topic sentence. Now, we are going to practice using these steps as we summarize our stories."

4.       "Now I am going to pass out a new story, Miss Nelson is Missing. I want everyone to practice reading the first three pages silently to yourself. We will finish the rest of the story later."Give everyone enough time to read through the first three pages.

5.      "Ok, now I am going to show you how I can use these five steps (pointing to board) to summarize what I read so that I can understand it. As I read the first page, I want you to be thinking about the important facts that I read." I will give a summary of the first page. "Did you see how I used the five steps to create my summary? I used the most important information in my summary and left out the things that were repeated and less important. Now I will pull out some keywords from the story in order. Then I will cut down the list to make one topic sentence. Let’s read the sentence together."

6.      Pass out the highlighters to each child. "Now I want you to summarize the rest of pages 1-3. Remember to use the five steps that are listed on the board. Begin by using your highlighter on important parts in the story." Walk around the room give advice on the children’s summaries.

6.      For the assessment, have the children read the rest of the story and provide a summary for the rest of it. Make a checklist that lists all the necessary parts of the summary and make sure each child includes that in their summary. Make sure that redundant and trivial information was left out of the summary and that only main points and ideas were included.

Redundant information was taken out:                            O Yes       O No
 Trivial information was taken out:                                  O Yes         O No
 There are only main points in the summarization:            O  Yes       O  No


Emily Watts - "Super Summarizer!"

-Pressley, M., C.J. Johnson, S. Symons, J.A. McGoldrick, and J.A. Kurity (1989) Strategies that Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of Text. The Elementary School Journal, 90, 3-32.

Click here to return to Guidelines