Ready, Set, Summarize!!

Reading to Learn (Summarizing)

Holly Vanhooser


The ultimate goal of reading is comprehension. Readers need to be able to comprehend text well enough that they can retell the main idea of the story to someone else. This technique is called summarizing,. This lesson is designed to provide a model of how to better comprehend text by reading a text, choosing the important words in the passage and summing the main idea up into a few words.



copy of the article “Godzilla” Fossils Reveals Real-Life Sea Monster for each student

black marker




a passage on the smartboard to use as an example



1.     Today we are going to learn about how to summarize. Who knows what a “summary” is? (allow the students time to answer) That’s right! A summary tells us the important information from text we have read.

2.     Let’s look at the passage that I have shown on the Smartboard. I want you to split up into groups of three or four and read this passage. As a group you will create a web about the passage you have read. A web is a great way to help you summarize. When you create a web, you start with a circle in the middle. In this circle you write the main idea or the topic of the story. Next, you draw lines coming out of the main idea circle and draw new circles at the end of these lines. These circles represent supporting details of the story. (Allow the students time to read the passage and work together to create a web summarizing the passage. When they are done, draw a web on the board and fill it in using what the students wrote down. Call on multiple students to give the main ideas of the story and the supporting details. As you go through the passage, have them cross out the nonsense information.)

3.     When we summarize text, there are 3 important rules we need to remember. First, we get rid of any unnecessary information. Second, we classify items and events. And finally, we construct a topic sentence. Whether you realized it or not, we actually used all three of these steps when we were summarizing the passage that was on the board.

4.     Now we are going to look at an article about a sea monster named Godzilla. Part of Godzilla’s body was found and discovered to be very old. To find out more about Godzilla we have to read the article that I am handing out. I want everyone to take out a highlighter, a black marker, a pencil and a piece of paper. I want you to read this article and as you are reading I want you to highlight information you think is important and cross out stuff that you think is nonsense information by using your black marker. Once you have read through the article completely, I want you to make a web filling in the main idea and important information. After you have organized your thoughts using a web, I want you to turn your details into complete sentences. When you finish, I want you to turn in your article, web and summary for a grade.


The teacher will grade the students assignment to assess their knowledge of summarization.  The students will be assessed on their ability to highlight important information, cross out nonsense information, create a web and write a summary using complete sentences.



1.     "Godzilla" Fossils Reveals Real-Life Sea Monster. Stefan Lovgren. National Geographic Kids News.

2.     Holly Kilgore. Simon Says Summarize.

3.     Whitney Patterson. Sum, Sum, Sum It Up!

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