Get the Skinny!  Summarize a Story!

Reading to Learn Lesson Design

By Kristin Herren



An essential part of students reading is comprehension.  Most of student reading in school is to understand the content that they are reading, for academic or aesthetic purposes.  When students read material in their textbooks, be it science or social studies or what have you, they are doing so to generate an understanding of the material they are reading to learn.  To some students, comprehension can be a barrier during their reading.  This could be because they are having difficulty reading or mainly because they lack successful strategies that would make comprehension easier for them.  On of these strategies is summarization.  This strategy allows them do take the important information from a passage and remember it for further use.  This concept is extremely important and students need to be instructed on how to summarize efficiently.  The purpose of this lesson will be to teach students how to summarize by asking themselves questions and learning the important steps of summarization.





1.  Start by telling the students that they will be reading a passage in the magazine silently.  Remind them what they do when they read silently.  Show them that they do not talk and follow along closely with the text and reread passages if they need to for clarification.

2. “Now we are going to read this article silently.  Remember to follow along careful and don’t talk.  Go ahead and start now.”

3.  “Okay, I think that everyone is finished now.  Now that we have read our article, we are going to learn how to summarize what we have read.  Who knows what summarize means?  That’s right!  A summary is when you pick out the main information from a article or story.  There are important steps to remember when summarizing a passage.”  Write the steps on the marker board.

As you describe the steps to the students, model the procedure and answer any questions they may have.  “These are a few steps that will make summarizing easier for you to do.”

5. “Now we are going to practice summarizing the article that you just read silently.  When you are writing your summary, remember the steps we discussed and also think about these questions.  What is the story about or what is the main idea?  Who is the story about, who are the characters?  Where does the story take place, what is the setting? These questions can be helpful when you are organizing your summary.

6.  Now take your piece of paper and write a short summary on the article.  Remember to answer the questions and follow the guidelines we talked about.  When you are finished, I will collect you summaries and check to see that you followed directions.  Then, as a class we will discuss the main idea, setting, and other things you found when summarizing the article. 





“Shaking Things Up in Summarization”  by Elizabeth Crosby.


“Slim Down the Good Stuff by Summarizing.”  By Anna Ludlum.


“Strategies that Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.”  Pressley, et al.  The Elementary School Journal.  Volume 90, Number 1.  1989

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