Successful Summarizers

 Lindsay Boshell

 Reading to Learn


Rationale: As children become better and more fluent readers it is important that they begin to comprehend what the story is. In order to remember the main idea of a story, children must be able to summarize.  By the end of their elementary school years, children are expected to use summarizing skills.  As children grow older, it is imperative that they be able to recall information for tests.  Summarization aids in the understanding and remembering of information that will be useful when studying for tests.  It is a skill that they must understand and know how to use.  This lesson will teach children how to summarize after they read a story.

Materials:  Paper, Pencil, Swimmy by Leo Lionni Scholastic, Inc.
New York: 1963. Fredrick by Leo Lionni Scholastic Inc., New York: 1967. The Hat by Jan Brett Scholastic, Inc., New York: 1997. (Class Sets of each book). 

Checklist for Assessment:
-Deleted unimportant information
-Deleted repeated information
-Picked out important words or phrases
-Oraganized thoughts
Sumamry explains the meaning or point of the book


1.       We are going to start by reviewing silent reading.  Who can tell me why we read silently?  Right!! We read silently so we can understand what we are reading.  By doing this, we can learn much new information at one time.  Today we are going to learn about summarization, which is a new way to understand what we are reading.  Who knows what a summary is?  That is a great point, you write a summary by picking out the main points in a story.

2.      Explain to the students that there are six steps to summarization.  Go over the six steps with the children.

1.       Delete important 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 sentence

6.     Invent a topic sentence if there is not one

3.     Model the summarization rules by reading and Old Favorite like Swimmy by Leo Lionni and summarize the book for them.  Explain to them that summarizing helps you remember the important facts or points that are illustrated or talked about in the book.  Ask them questions that scaffold thinking such as “what was the most important points talked about in the book?” “What texts or points can you delete?”

4.      Now divide the students into groups of three or four and have them read Fredrick by Leo Lionni to themselves.  Once they have read the story let them talk among their groups, each giving a summary of the book.  Once each child has given a summary of the book, the teacher will model again for them using the summarization rules and skills.  The teacher will give her summary of the book asking herself question out loud to show the students how to use the rules.  The teacher could say I think the least important information was _____.  I would delete this section ___.  I think the topic sentence should be ____.  This shows them how to organize information and thoughts in their minds so that they will be able to recall the important facts or information next time.  When students begin to summarize they do not always recall the most important information, but usually the insignificant facts.  This is why it is very important for the teacher to model for them again, once they have had an opportunity to practice summarizing.

5.      Now have the students read  The Hat by Jan Brett

6.      Assessment:  Have each student write a summary of the book The Hat.  Once everyone has written their summary, read them to the class (without disclosing the name of the author).  This will show how most summaries are worded differently, but show the same important facts and information. This will also help the teacher to see which students need extra help with summarization. Class you did a great job practicing with the summarization rules.  We will continue to practice this so that we will be successful summarizers!!


Ade, Larkin. The Map of Summarization.

 Brett, J. (1997). “The Hat.” Scholastic, Inc. New York: New York.

 Lionni, L. (1963).  “Swimmy.” Scholastic, Inc. New York: New York

 Lionni, L. (1967). “Frederick.” Scholastic, Inc. New York: New York

 Pressley, M. et al.  (1989).  “Strategies that Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.”  The Elementary Journal. 90.1. University of Chicago: IL. 3-32.

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