Let’s Summarize!

Reading to Learn

Jane Moncrief

  Comprehension is an extremely important part of successful reading.  Summarization helps children to build their comprehension skills.  Children should be able to pick out the important parts of text each time they read.  There are strategies that help students comprehend reading material. 


  1. Ask the children, “Does anyone know what summarization is?”  Have a class discussion on summarization.  “Summarization is picking out the important facts out of something that you are reading.  When you summarize, you don’t worry with all the details.  Today, we’re going to learn how to summarize so that you all can be better readers.  We’re going to read silently at our desks.  Can anyone tell me how we’re supposed to read silently at our desks?  Well, we read to ourselves, and we don’t talk to anyone around us.
  2. “There are three steps to summarizing a story.”  Read them a short paragraph of a story and model how to summarize it.  Point to the poster with the summarization techniques on it.  “Before we begin to read, let’s go over the three important things to remember when you read.  The first step is to pick out important ideas from the story.  The second step is to throw away the details that are not important.  The third step is to organize the important ideas and make one main idea of the story.”
  3. Pass out the article to each student.  Have them read silently through the first paragraph of the article before focusing on the summarization techniques.  Go over the summarization techniques again, and then have the students reread the first paragraph of the article.  Tell them, “When you read the story the second time, cross out all the information that isn’t important to the story with a pencil. Circle the sentences that you think are important and then finally, take all the circled sentences and combine them into a sentence or two that sums up the whole article.”  Tell them to use the three summarization techniques.  Tell them to write down the facts that they think are important.  Model you three facts that you think are important after they read theirs aloud.  This will help them when they do this later.   
  4.  The students should have a basic understanding of how to summarize a story now that they have had practice.  Pass out a piece of paper to each student.  Tell them to make three columns.  In the first column, they should put “Deleted Information.”  In the second column, they should put “Important Facts.”  In the third column, they should put “Most Important Ideas.”  Explain to them to fill in information from the story into the three columns.  Model using the first paragraph again.  This will be a good scaffold for the students.  If a student continues to have problems putting the information into the columns on paper, allow them to continue using cross out/circle method.  “Everyone please finish reading your article silently. You should have three columns on your paper, write the sentences in the column that they fit under as you read the article, if it helps continue to cross out unimportant information and circle important stuff. Remember to write down all of your information as you go.”
  5.  Continue to practice summarization strategies so that children can successfully the skill of summarizing.


 You can check their summarization skills by checking their work, whether they have used the cross out/circle method or the column method.  You could also give the students a different article, so they could summarize something new.


Plug It All In – Kristen Britton

10 Cool Things About Dolphins (Retrieved 13 November 2005)

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