Be a Super Summarizer

Reading to Learn

Allyson Houlton


            As students become better readers, it is important for them to know how to gain meaning and understanding about the stories they are reading.  The ability to summarize is vital to understanding and being sure students are learning the most important information from the reading.  Although there are many comprehension strategies, this lesson will focus on teaching students how to summarize a selection of text. Students will use strategies such as deleting unneeded information and using a graphic organizer.


-Individual copies of the article: Baby Boom! Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species

-Individual copies of the passage: Tiger

- Chart paper with first 2 paragraphs of Baby Boom! article written on it

-Pencils, paper, highlighter, pens (1 for each student)

-Dry erase board, marker, and highlighter (for teacher)

-Poster with the sentence, “Beware of bees because they can sting”.

-Summarization Checklist for teacher (see below)


Did the Student…



Get rid of unimportant and repeated information?



Organize items and events together?



Select a topic?



Write a topic statement that covers everything that is important from the passage of the text?





1. Begin lesson by introducing to the students the comprehension strategy of summarizing. “Today we will be talking about summarizing. Summarizing is a great way to help us understand after we read a passage or book. We could say that summarizing is like recapping the most important parts of what we read.”

2. Next, review with students about crosschecking and rereading to help understand a statement that they are having problems with. “Before we talk about summarizing, let’s go over what to do if we come across a word that we do not understand.” Show students the poster with the sentence, ‘Beware of bees because they can sting’. Students, if I read this sentence, ‘Beware of bees because they can sing’, I would think that sounds weird. Let me read the sentence again slowly. ‘Beeeware of beees becaaause theeey can siiing’. Sing? Oh, sting! Beware of bees because they can sting! As you can see, cross-checking helps us when we do not understand words.”

3. “Now, we will discuss the rules of summarization. Let’s look at these rules” (Write rules on the white board and read each rule aloud as I write it). Rule number 1: Get rid of unimportant and repeated information. This rule is basically telling us to take out anything that is not important to the passage we are reading and anything that is mentioned more than once. Rule number 2: Organize items and events together. This rule simply means to get all of our information together and organize it. Rule number 3: Select a topic. This means that we should create a topic that is only one or two words that tells exactly what we will be talking about. Rule number 4: Write a topic sentence that covers everything you find important about what you read. This can be very brief, but it needs to cover what you find to be very important out of everything you read! Now, we are going to read the first two paragraphs of the article you have on your desks.” (Call on 2 different students to read each paragraph aloud while the rest of the class follows along) “Once we have finished reading, I will show you how to effectively summarize the statement we just read”.

4. Now, show the students the chart paper with the first two paragraphs written on it. “As you can see, I have written out on chart paper what we just read. We will use this to mark out unneeded information to help us with the summarization process. I will model for you exactly how to summarize, and then you will do it on your own! So, what is the first step in the summarization process we have on the board? Correct, get rid of unimportant or repeated information. Okay, so what do I see on the chart paper from what we read that seems unimportant? The first sentence in this passage does not seem to be important, so I will mark that out. I think that we can also mark out the last sentence in the passage. These do not need to be in our summary. The second to last sentence in the passage does not need to be included either, so I will mark that out. The second sentence in paragraph one is important to show how many pandas actually survived. The second sentence in paragraph two is important to show the reader about how much a baby panda weighs at birth. Now we are ready to move on to step 2, which is organizing the events and together. We are going to come up with an idea of what the article is about. I will use my highlighter to mark the most important phrases. Now I will highlight the only sentence we have left in the first paragraph. For the second paragraph, I will highlight every sentence except the last sentence, which we marked out. Now it is time to decide on a main topic for our summary. After reading these sentences, I believe that ‘Su Lin’ is a great topic. I will write that on the board as we start writing our summary. Now it is time for the final step, a topic sentence. Remember that this is one sentence that recaps the whole passage we read. Let’s read over what we have left that we have highlighted.” (Read highlighted sentences aloud with class). “I believe that a good topic sentence  would be, ‘Su Lin is one of 19 captive pandas who turned a year old, and she now weighs 75 pounds, making her the third giant panda cub born in California Zoo. (Write this sentence on white board under the topic).

5. “Next you are going to practice summarizing using a different reading!” (Pass out copies of passage, Tiger, to every student). (Give ‘book talk’) “This is a passage all about tigers. How big are they when they are born? What do they like to do? You’ll have to read the passage to find out! Remember after you read to go back and cross out any information that is not important. Then you will highlight the sentences that are important to the main idea. Next, you will find a topic and write a topic sentence. Any question? Good, get busy! Please turn in your article and your summary in to me when you have finished.”

6. Assessment: Teacher will evaluate student’s marking on the passage they are given, as well as the summary they have written. Teacher will use the summarization checklist included above.


-Baby Animals A- to- Z: Tiger. Animal Planet, 2011.

- Gordon, David George. Baby Boom! Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species. National Geographic for Kids. 1996-2008.

-Griffin, Meg. Long Story Short.

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