Let's Sum It Up!

Megan Schmidt
Reading to Learn

This lesson will teach students how to summarize the passages that they are reading and the importance of being able to summarize.  By learning how to summarize, students will be able to cut out information that is not needed and pay closer attention to what is important within the text they are reading.  With summarization students will be able to better comprehend the text that they read by cutting out unimportant information and focusing on important information.

Printed copies of the article "Siberian Survivor" from
Printed copies of the article "Working Like a Dog" from


1. Start the lesson by explaining what summarizing is and why it is important.  "When you read passages there is information in there that you don't need to pay much attention to and there is very important information that you need to focus on.  When you summarize, you make the passage into a shorter version of what you just read by cutting out unimportant information and keeping the important facts.  An example of summarizing would be if I read the following: (Before reading have the following sentences written on the board) 'I was hungry for lunch.  I went to Pizza Hut.  I ate pepperoni pizza there.'  I could summarize those sentences into 'I ate pepperoni pizza at Pizza Hut for lunch.' (Write the summarized sentence on the board)  See how we cut out what was unimportant and put all of the important facts together?  That is what we will be practicing on today."
2. Have the students read the "Siberian Survivor" article from National Geographic Kids Online.  Print copies for each child from the link  http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/0311/articles/mainarticle.html.     "Remember how we learned to silently read.  Silent reading is when we read to ourselves without moving our lips or speaking.  I want you to read this passage silently to yourself and as you read think about what points are important and what points are unimportant or stated more than once.  When you are done reading think about the main facts of the text that are of importance."
3. Split the students up into small groups and have the them go back through the article.  "I want you to highlight every important point of the text that you feel needs to be included in the summary of the article."  After the students have had time to go through and highlight what they felt was appropriate tell them, "Now go back through with a pencil and draw a line through what you feel could be left out of the summary or what is stated more than once.  This will be information the author put in there but is not necessary for our summary."
4. Have a class discussion on what the students thought were important points of the article and what could be left out in a summary.  Discuss why the unimportant parts of the text could be left out and why the important points needed to be left for the summary.
5. Have each small group write a summary on the article using the parts that they highlighted.  When each group is done have them come up one at a time to read their summary.  Each summary should be similar.
6. For assessment print out the "Working Like a Dog" article from National Geographic Kids Online from the following link: http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/0301/articles/mainarticle.html for each child.  Have each child highlight what they feel are the important facts for a summary in the article and cross out what can be left out.  Have them write a summary on the article and submit it to you for assessment.
 Use the following checklist to grade them by:
  1. Did they highlight the important parts of the text?
  2.  Did they cross out what was irrelevant or unimportant?
  3.  Did they include all important information without being too wordy?
 4.  Did they summarize in their own words rather than copy sentence for sentence?



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