Some Simple Rules to Sum it Up!

animated book

Reading to Learn
Laura Estill



The main goal of reading is comprehension.  There are many strategies for comprehending text.  One of the most important strategies for children to learn is summarization.  To successfully summarize text, students must follow 3 simple rules: delete trivia and redundancies, super ordinate items and events, and find and compose a statement that covers everything that writer is saying about the topic.  This lesson is designed to help students identify the main information in a text.  This will be achieved by having the students work together in pairs to identify the main idea and supporting details of a text. After the lesson, the students will be able to effectively summarize a text and use the information to help them comprehend the story.  The students will understand the importance and value of summarizing and will be able to use this new strategy when reading any text.




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.  Review with the class how we read silently. Remember when we talked about reading silently?  Let’s review it.  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. Model this by summarizing an article out of the students’ science book.

5.  Pass out the Dugong 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 draw a line though unimportant information and highlight the important information.  This will help them when 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:



Vernon, Jennifer.  Dugongs: Mermaids in Danger? National Geographic Kids News

Manning, Mari.  It’s a Peach of an Idea!

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