1, 2, 3…Summing It Up!



By: Shelley Horton



Rationale: The main goal of reading is comprehension. Students can use many strategies to comprehend written text. One of the most important strategies for children to learn is summarization. Summarization can be defined as finding the most important information from a reading. To effectively summarize a text, students must follow several rules including identify main information, delete trivial and redundant information, and relate main and supporting ideas. In this lesson, students will practice summarizing articles to gain greater comprehension skills. 


Computer with internet access (National Geographic for reading)
White board and markers
Paper, highlighter, and pencil for each student




  1. Start lesson by saying, "The purpose of reading is comprehension. That just means that the reason we read is to understand what we are reading. Sometimes we want to understand just for fun and sometimes we want to understand to learn something. A great way to help us comprehend is to learn to summarize. Summarizing is a strategy in which you find the most important information from a reading. This strategy will help you to understand what you are reading better."


  1. We have been practicing reading silently, in our heads, and I want us to keep doing that. Let’s practice it before we start to summarize. I’m going to write this sentence on the board and then read it aloud. Read "My dog can run really fast" out loud. Now read it silently. See how I did that. Now it is your turn. Read this sentence out loud, then read it silently in your head. "I am going to go swimming tomorrow." Very good.


  1. "On to summarizing. There are three rules I want you to remember when you are summarizing." (Write on the board as you say). “They are: 1. Get rid of any unnecessary or repeated information, 2. pick out the most important items or events, 3. and write a sentence that covers everything the author is trying to say about the topic.”


  1. Read “The Great Koala Rescue” on National Geographic for Kids’ website to class (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngkids/0503/). “Now I will follow are three rules of summarizing to help me comprehend this text, and you all follow along. First, I will try to get rid of any unimportant information. For example, it is not really important that the koala in the story was looking for eucalyptus leaves. Next, I will take out important items or events.  For example, the koala got its head stuck in the fence. A park ranger helped to free it. Lastly, I will try to make a statement that covers everything I read. For example, In Australia, a koala got its head stuck in a fence, but a park ranger came to save it by using a tranquilizer and cutting it free.”


  1. Now it is the student’s turn. I will have them summarize this paragraph like I did the last one. “As lightening flashed around them, Sabrina and her parents ran for cover. “When it stopped raining, we thought it was safe,” says Sabrina. They started to hike back to their car along the trail. Then zap! A lightening bolt struck nearby. It happened so fast that the family didn’t know what it hit. A jolt of electricity shot through their bodies.” Have the class work together and work through the three rules.


  1. Give each student a copy of “Pet Fish Learn New Tricks,” by Catherine Clarke Fox from the same National Geographic website.


  1. Explain to the students that as they read they are to mark out the unimportant or repeated with their pencil, and highlight the important facts.


  1. After they have finished that, have them work in pairs to write a summarization of the article by using the three steps.


  1. Assessment: For assessment, collect their articles as well as their summarizations. Check their three step process by seeing if they marked out and highlighted correctly. Also check their summarizations to make sure they are understanding the process.



National Geographic for Kids, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngkids.

Nell Fleming, 1, 2, 3…A Summary, http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/connect/flemingrl.html.

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