To Sum it all Up…


Emily Wheeler

Reading to Learn

Rationale:  Comprehension is one of the most important things to teach to children while they are learning how to read.  A good way to help children comprehend text is to summarize.  To be able to read and recall information from an expository text, children need instruction in summarization.  By deleting trivial information, deleting redundant information, substituting superordinate terms for a list of items, and creating a topic sentence, students will be able to remember factual information better.

Chalk board
Dry Erase Board
Dry Erase Markers
Copies of “
Freaky Frog” article from National Geographic Online for each student
Copies of “
Life Is Serious Mission for Rescue Dogs” article from National Geographic Online for each student
Summarization Rubric

1.) Start by reviewing how to read silently and introduce the article. “Who likes frogs? Today we are going to read an article about frogs and the freaky things that are happening to them. First before we start reading, I would like to review how to read silently.  Watch me as I read silently.” The teacher should model holding a book and reading. The students should be able to see the teachers eyes moving along the page and maybe even see her moving her mouth without making sounds. "I will read the first paragraph of the article to myself.  Now I am going to pass out the article and I want everyone to read silently. I should see everyone’s eyes moving as they read."
2.) “Ok, great! Everyone did a good job reading silently.   I want you to raise your hand if you know what a summary is.” Students will respond with different answers. “Well a summary can be written by picking out the main points in a story or passage. When you write a summary, you are trying to get the point of the story across, in fewer sentences.   There are six different steps to keep in mind when you are summarizing.” Write these steps on  the chalk board.
1. Delete unimportant information
2. Delete repeated information
3. Substitute easy terms for lists of items
4. Add a series of events with an easy action term
5. Select a topic
6. Invent a topic sentence if there is none

3.) Next, break the class into groups. “A great way to summarize a piece of literature is to make a map.  When we map a reading we put the main idea or topic in a middle circle and the supporting details around the outside in other circles.” Now, in your group use these six steps to make a map of our article.  Put the map on your dry erase board.  “The middle circle will be what?  The topic, very good.  What is the topic of our article? Yes! Frogs are the topic in our article so this will be our center circle.  Now we will make antennas coming out from our circle, which will describe something important about the frogs.  What is something described in the article about frogs? Some frogs are becoming extinct. You may also include what kinds of environments frogs live in.  In order to keep adding on to the web you will need to come up with some more important information from the article describing the freaky frogs.”  At this time allow the students’ some time to finish their web or at least write down some more key points from the article. Explain that after they have finished the web, they should write complete sentences for each idea and that this will be their summary of the article. Tell students that they should have a topic sentence that will let readers know what the article is about. “Everyone should have a topic sentence. A topic sentence is a sentence that lets readers know exactly what the article is about. All of the other sentences in your paragraph should support and relate to the topic sentence.” When students are done, they should have a complete paragraph.

  4.) Give children the article “Life Is Serious Mission for Rescue Dogs.” Instruct students to make a summarization map of the passage and write a summarization paragraph, using their map.  Check each map and summary making sure that the students are using all six steps of summarization.  Use thes ummarization rubric below and include these items:

1. Deleted unimportant information:  yes or no
2. Deleted repeated information:  yes or no
3. Substituted easy terms for lists of items:  yes or no
4. Added a series of events with an easy action term:  yes or no
5. Selected a topic:  yes or no
6. Invented a topic sentence if there was none:  yes or no


Brian Handwork. Life is Serious Mission for Rescue Dogs National Geographic News Online.

Freaky Frog” National Geographic News Online.

Pressley, M. Johnson, CJ Symons, McGoldrick, JA.  (1989)  Strategies that Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.  “The Elementary School Journal.” 90, 3-32.

“Slimming Down to the Good Stuff” by Anna Ludlum. Fall 2003.

Click here to return to Guidelines