Be Cool and Use the Tools of Summarization

by: Julia Lightsey



As students work on becoming skilled readers, they must learn how to comprehend.  A strategy to help in improving comprehension is summarizing.  Students must have instruction on how to successfully summarize a text so that they will be able to understand what they are reading.  Student must learn to identify what is important and not important in the text and how to then form short and thorough sentences that explain the main idea. As students practice and learn to shorten the amount of information given and pick out the most important information they will be on their way to developing comprehensive reading skills.


·        Copies of “Mummy Mystery” from National Geographic Kids (Nation Geographic Explorer) for each student

·        paper

·        pencils

·        Summarization Checklist: 1. Delete unimportant information 2. Delete repeated information 3. Substitute easy words for lists of item 4. Add a series of events with an easy action term 5. Select a topic 6. Invent a topic sentence if there is already not one.

·        Blackboard and markers


1.  In order to begin the lesson, I will start a discussion on summarizing in order to find out what students may already know about summarizing.  To make sure that everyone understands, I will say, "Summarizing is when we pick out the main ideas from a paragraph so that we have a shorter amount of information to understand and remember."  Today we are going to work on becoming excellent summarizers so that when we read a text, we will be able to better comprehend it. Go through the six steps of good summarization slowly and carefully so that students know what they are. (1. Delete unimportant information 2. Delete repeated information 3. Substitute easy words for lists of item 4. Add a series of events with an easy action term 5. Select a topic 6. Invent a topic sentence if there is already not one.)

2. After introducing the process of summarizing tell the students that in order to become a good summarizer it is essential to ask questions about the article as you read. Say: As a class we are going to practice summarizing today with the article “Mummy Mystery” and I am going to ask some questions about the article as I am reading. Today I am going to ask the questions out-loud, but if I were just reading this article I would only ask them in my head. First I would ask ‘What do I think the article is about just from reading the title?’ (Have the students make several predictions about what they think the article will be about and explain that good readers and summarizers always ask questions and make prediction when reading.)

3. Have the students read the article silently. Say: Now I want you to read the article all the way through silently. Make sure and read it carefully and slowly so that you can summarize it later.

4. Give the student 10-12 minutes to read through the article. If some students finish sooner than others, have them go back and read it again. After all students have finished draw a graphic organizer web on the board. Say: Now that we have all read the article together let’s talk about some of the main ideas of this article. In this process we want to be as specific as possible so that we can write a good summary, but we also want to keep it as short as possible.  We should be able to create a paragraph that summarizes the entire article.  Each section on our web can be used to create a sentence to help create a short paragraph." Have the students give you facts and information about the article. Divide it up into categories or simply make a list of the information to draw from in writing the summary.

5. After making the web, use some of the information from the web to come up with the topic sentence as a class. Give your input as an expert summarizer, but let student make many of the decision in what the sentence should say. Say: Now class I want you to look at all this information we have listed up here on the board. Does our article have a topic sentence already written or do we need to write one? Remember a topic sentence is ONE sentence that tells us what the whole article or text is going to be about. (Remind students that most topic sentences are in the opening lines of an article, but not all, and some do not even have great topic sentences, so it may be easier to make one for yourself in summarizing the article.) Have the students respond with what they think is the topic sentence. (For this article I would use: “Hanging out with mummies may seem scary, but I do it all the time.” But if student come up with a better one I would use it.) Together as a class write the first sentence of the paragraph, have the student come up with it on their own using teamwork, but give your professional input as well.  

6. After you have found the topic sentence and written the first sentence of the summary paragraph pass out a checklist to each student with the six points of summarization. Say: Now that you have read the article and we have written the first sentence of the summary I want you to finish writing the summary paragraph. Remember a paragraph is only around 5-10 sentences so keep it short and use simple words and the MOST IMPORTANT information. Use the web on the board and the checklist on your desk to be sure you have included all of the points in you paragraph. I will be walking around if you have any questions.

7. Assessment: Have the students partner read their paragraphs to another student. Tell them to look at the checklist as their partner reads and make sure that they (their partner) have all of the point in their paragraph. Then collect the paragraphs and read them checking is students understood and used the six steps of summarization. 


Gluckman, Amanda. Long Story Short.  

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