Simply Summarizing!

Lindsay Jones

Reading to Learn


Rationale: It had been established that the ultimate goal of reading is comprehension.  Once students are able to read text fluently and with speed, they must begin to move on to the next goal in reading.  That next goal is reading to learn.  For a beginning reader to reach this goal, it is necessary to learn and practice summarization skills to identify and recall mains ideas in reading.  Summarization is the process of identifying and recalling main ideas.  This lesson will teach students the steps of summarization and allow them to practice summarizing with a few passages provided.  Review with students what comprehension is to activate their background knowledge. 


Bookmark for each student containing Summarization Tips.

Summarization Tips on bookmark:     1.  Find a topic sentence in the passage.

                                                            2.   Find the important facts in the passage.

                                                            3.  Get rid of information that is not very useful, or that doesn’t support your topic sentence.

                                                            4.   Delete repeated ideas found within the passage. 

One Copy of National Geographic’s article “Green Invaders” per student. (Copies can be found at:

One Copy of National Geographic’s article “Who’s the Fastest Jaw on the Draw?” per student.  (Copies found at:

Smart board with Internet access

Lined Paper



1.  Ask the students: “What does it mean to comprehend what you read?”  When you comprehend something, you understand it.  The ultimate goal of reading is to understand or comprehend what you read.  There is more to reading than just looking at the words on the pages, in order to learn anything from the reading you must be able to comprehend or figure out what the words are telling you.   

2.  Say: “Today we are going to a technique that will make comprehending easier.  One way you can comprehend what you are reading is by summarizing.” Go over that to summarize means to review what the story is talking about.  And that students should picked out the most important parts of the story and remember those. 

3.  The teacher will pull up the article on the Internet and display it for the class using a smartboard.  The teacher will read and then model to students how to summarize the “Green Invaders” article. 

4.  Say: “I am now going to show you how to summarize an article.  Follow along with me on your paper as I highlight and cross out what is needed and not needed in the article.  We are going to practice on this article and then you are going to summarize another article by yourself.  Remember when you read I want you to pay close attention to what the most important information is in the article.” 

5.  Before the teacher reads the article to the class go over the Summarization Tips bookmark.  After discussing the different tips the teacher will read the article aloud.  While reading model how to figure out if facts are important in the article.  The first article we are going to read is about these plants that are coming over from other countries and killing what plants we already have here in the United States.  We will have to read the rest of the article to find out what happens!  Say: “Are these important facts? Yes! Let’s highlight them.”  Make sure all students highlight the important information in the first paragraph.  Also model how to delete information that isn’t useful to understanding the article.  Is the information “Monarch butterfly caterpillars, for example, dine on milkweed. If people cut down milkweed and replace it with another plant, the butterflies will not have the food source that they need to survive.” Say: “Are there any facts that we can delete? Yes! Great job, now cross those out with your pencil by drawing a line through them.”  Also get students to look for repeated ideas.  Say: “Are there any ideas in this article that are repeated? Yes.  Let’s cross those out too then.”  “Now let’s look for the main idea of the passage or the topic sentence. What do you think the topic sentences of this passage would be? Good, let’s underline it!”  Go over with students that usually that topic sentence is the first sentence in the paragraph. 

6.  Complete the whole passage with the students making sure to model throughout how to underline or highlight important parts and cross out trivial information.  Make sure to follow the rules provided by the Summarization Tips bookmark. 

7.  When the class is done reading the entire passage and identifying the important ideas, create a short three-sentence summary.  This should be done as a class on the smartboard. 


8.  Tell the students that they are now going to read an article on their own and summarize it all by themselves.  Say: “now you will read the article ‘Whose the Fastest Jaw on the Draw?’ also from the National Geographic website.”  There should be a printed copy for each student.  Students will underline, highlight and cross out parts of the passage, and then they will create a summary.  Have the students write a paragraph with four to five sentences summarizing the article in their own words.  Check the student’s summaries for main ideas and for understanding the main topic as the assessment.  Also assess the student’s questions about what they just learned today.  Ask: “What does it mean to summarize a text?” “What are a four summarizations tips?” “Why is it important to summarize a text?”


Casey Walker: Summing it Up

Green Invaders Article:


Who’s the Fastest Jaw on the Draw? Article:

Pressley, Michael, Carla J. Johnson, Sonya Symons, Jacqueline McGoldrick, and Janice A. Kurita. Strategies That Improve Children’s Memory and Comprehension of Text.  Pgs. 5-8. 

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