Super Summarizers

water drips

Reading to Learn Design

Jackie Erd


I.  Rationale:  Decoding is the building block to learning to read, just as summarization is the building block to comprehension.  The heart of reading is to understand what has been read.  In this lesson, students will learn event mapping as a tool for summarizing events in an expository text.  Then they will practice summarization in order to build a stronger foundation for reading comprehension.

II. Materials:

·       multiple copies of Time for Kids April 23, 2004 Issue

·       five large sheets of butcher paper, markers

III. Procedures:

1.      Assign reading Time for Kids as homework the previous night. When the reading is done, the students will be instructed to take out their magazine.

2.    First, review silent reading with the class. Today, we are going to start with going back over silent reading. Who remembers what this is? (Answers) Right silent reading is when we read with our eyes and not a loud. Why do we read silently? (Answers) Good, we do this because it helps us to understand what we are reading.

3.     Introduce the idea of summarization.  There are also other things we can do to help us understand or comprehend what we are reading. One way is by summarizing our text. Who can tell me what it means to summarize? (Answers) Right, when we summarize something we retell it, stressing only the most important parts in order to emphasize the main idea. When you are summarizing a text, you must create a shorter version of what you read. This means you take out any information that is not important or that is repeated in the text.  Ask, why is summarization important for reading? (Answers) Exactly, summarizing helps us to better understand what we have read.

4.    Model the use of summary by reading the Article Warning: Animals at Risk in the magazine and writing down some of the main events on the board as you go along.  When you are done, summarize the page for them.  This is how we summarize what is going on.  We take the text and make notes as we go along and finally come up with a shorter version of it that packs in all the important events.

5.     When they are finished, begin by modeling mapping for the article you modeled earlier.  We are going to make a map to help us write our summaries.  (I will hang a piece of the butcher paper on the chalkboard.  I will write on it with a marker.)  First, draw a big circle in the middle of the paper.  Inside the circle write “Warning: Animals at Risk”.  Begin by writing a few ideas and facts of the article you read and for each one explain why that is an important part of the article.  Then ask the students to help you finish.  What are some of the words and ideas that you wrote down?  Each time I write one of your words or ideas, I will draw a line from our big circle and draw a little circle to write your ideas in, tell me why you chose those words or ideas.

6.    Now, have the students read the cover story Water Troubles silently. As you read, write down some words or ideas that you think explain about what is going on in the article.

7.     In groups, have them now complete a map for Water Troubles.  Now that everyone is finished, every group will come up and present their story map and summary of their chapter. 

8.    When finished have them individually write a summary of the article.  The summary only needs to be three to five sentences long.

IV. Assessment:  Use their presentations, maps, and summaries to assess the students’ understanding of summarization.


·       The map followed a progression of some sort to clearly map out ideas.

·       The map included the main points of the article

·       The presentation of the map was done including all members of the group

·       The group was confident in their understanding of their article

·       The group demonstrated clearly and effectively

·       The summary was the proper length (approx. one paragraph)

·       The summary followed correct grammar and spelling

·       The summary concisely stated the information from the map and the main points of the article.

·       The summary was original and not just lines from the article.

·       The work was done on time

V. References:

TIME for Kids: April 23, 2004 Issue. Available online at:

Swindall, Tamra.  “Learning to Summarize”.

Oglesby, Kara.  “Fun with Summarizing”.

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