“Summarization is a piece of cake!!”


Reading to Learn


Mery McMillan


Rational:  Summarization is an important part of comprehending text.  In order to become better skillful readers, students must be able to find key points and main ideas throughout a story.  This lesson will help students learn how to find the key points and separate the main ideas in a story in order to summarize a text.


Materials: Pencil, paper, highlighter, black sharpees, chalk, chalkboard, passage example on smartboard (students will have a printed copy of the passage), class copies of “The Big Oil Spill” article from National Wildlife Federation, and class copies of “A Disastrous Oil Spill” article from Time for Kids.




1.      The teacher will say, “Today we are going to learn about the importance of summarization. What do you think summarizing means? (The teacher will allow enough time for students to answer the questions). That’s right! Summarizing means that we can pick out the important ideas of a story and tell about them in our own words.  When you summarize, you are simply retelling the story and stressing the main topics discussed in the text.  Only major ideas should be mentioned in a summary and the less important, minor details should be left out of a summary.


2.      Say:  “Now I am going to show you a passage example on the smartboard.  I want you to read the passage silently to yourself as I read the passage aloud (Each student will have a printed copy of the passage.).  As I am reading the passage, I want you to highlight the main ideas in the story and cross out the minor or unimportant details in the story (The teacher will pass out highlighters and black sharpees for students to use during the passage example).  The teacher will model how to delete unnecessary information and pick out the important ideas. As a class, the teacher will ask the questions: What did you highlight in this passage?  What ideas were important?  What information was not important to highlight?  Did you highlight or cross out more of the passage with your sharpee?”  (The teacher will call upon several students in order for students to get a better understanding of how to summarize a text).


3.      Say:  “Why do you believe summarization is so important for reading?  Have you ever summarized a text before? (The teacher will call upon several students to answer the question). Great answers!  Summarization helps us to better understand what we have just read.  Today, we are going to practice summarizing a text by reading, ‘The Big Oil Spill’ written by the National Wildlife Federation.  This is an article that stresses the dangers of oil spills beneath the Gulf of Mexico”.


4.      Say: “I want each of you to pay close attention as you read the story silently to yourselves.  As you read the story, remember to cross out any information that can be considered unnecessary with your black sharpee.  Use your highlighter in order to show the main ideas of the text.  This will help you be able to quickly write out a summary.  After you have finished reading the story, I want you to summarize what you read in the text in 10 sentences or less.  Remember to only write about the key points or main ideas throughout the story.  Don’t write down any of the minor details that you crossed out but stick to what the article is mainly talking about.  Please write your summaries in complete sentences.  Remember to write your summaries in your own words and do not copy the text word for word  (The teacher will pass out the class copies of “The Big Oil Spill”.  The teacher will give students 15-20 minutes to read and summarize the article).


5.       Say:  “Now that each of you have been given time to read the story and summarize the main points of the article, I will call upon several students to tell me what they wrote.  I will write the main ideas and key points on the chalkboard as you read them aloud (The teacher will call upon several students to give at least 10 main ideas about what they read).  The broken oil pipe leaked over 210, 000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  The oil pollutes the water and the fumes are extremely dangerous to breathe.  The oil is harmful to animals because it hurts their eyes and lungs.  Great job!  These are all great summary points!”


6.      Say:  “Now that you have had practice summarizing a text together, I am going to pass out another article called, “A Disastrous Oil Spill” article from Time for Kids, and I want you to write at least 5 main ideas that you read in this article.  What are some things that we should remember about summarizing a piece of text? (The teacher will call upon students to answer the question).  Awesome answers! You should only write the important details and main ideas in a story.  You should also make sure that you include any key words in the text.  After you have finished summarizing the article, I will collect your papers (The teacher will take up the student’s papers with at least 5 summary points or more and read them in order to make sure that students understand how to summarize a piece of text.  The teacher will use a checklist to make sure that students have understood how to highlight the main ideas and cross out the minor ideas of a text). Great work today! J




“The Big Oil Spill” article was written by the National Wildlife Federation and can be found at:



“A Disastrous Oil Spill” article from Time for Kids can be found at: http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/kids/news/story/0,28277,1985599,00.html


Casey, April “Five Step Summary” can be found on the Reading Genie website at:


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