Details, Details, Details!

Reading to Learn

Morgan Barrow


Rationale: As students become more fluent in their reading, they begin to build their comprehension which helps readers gain meaning.  One way students can develop this skill is by learning to summarize text.  In this lesson student will learn how to effectively summarize a passage which will give them a new strategy to help improve their comprehension.



-Dry-erase board

-Document camera

-Summarization checklist for student and teacher use:

          _____ Pick out a topic sentence

          _____ Find important details

          _____ Remove information that it needless

          _____ Find repeated ideas and remove them

-Copy of "In a Pinch" from the "Can Animals be Nice?" article for each student

-Copy of "One Good Turn" from the "Can Animals be Nice?" article for each student

-Pencil for each student

-Highlighter for each student

-Paper for each student



1. Introduce the lesson: "Today we are going to learn how to summarize.  When we summarize we pick out the most important parts of a story and put them all together.  We also remove any information that is not necessary in order to only remember the important parts.  So today remember to find the details!" 

2. Review: "Before we get started let's review how to read silently.  Remember instead of reading the words out loud we want to think about the words in our heads!  Let me show you how we read something silently (write: "My dog loves to play at the park" on the board).  First I am going to read this sentence out loud, "My dog loves to play at the park."  Next I am going to whisper the sentence, "My dog loves to play at the park." Now I am going to mouth the words in the sentence, (My dog loves to play at the park).  Finally, I will read the sentence silently in my head!  Where does my dog love to play?  Oh, at the park!  Now I am going to write a sentence on the board, and I want everyone to read it silently (write: "My uncle is coming to visit on Thanksgiving Day" on the board).  When is my uncle coming to visit?  That's right, on Thanksgiving Day!

3. Model the steps to summarizing.  "Summarizing can be tricky, so let's learn how to do it together.  Everyone get out their highlighter and the copy of "In a Pinch."  The two articles that we are going to be reading today talk about how animals are kind to one another.  Since this statement sums up the main idea of both of the articles, let's remember it as our topic sentence.  In this story an African elephant finds a forest elephant with its trunk stuck in a trap.  We are going to have to read and see how the African elephant shows kindness to the forest elephant (place article on document camera).  Follow along on your article, or watch on the board as I read the story out loud."

4. "The first step to summarizing is identifying or creating a topic sentence.  Can anyone remember our topic sentence for these articles?  Right, animals can show kindness to one another!  Let's right that down on our sheet of paper."

5. "Now let's look at the article and find good details that we want to include in our summary.  Can anyone one out a good detail?  Let's highlight these points so we can remember to write them down (highlight statements that the class identifies as being important)."

6. "Next we need to cross out any information that is not necessary or that repeats.  Can anyone find something that we need to cross out?  Use your pencil and mark through these statements (mark out statements that the class identifies as unnecessary)."

7. "Now that we have all of the important details we need to put them together in a paragraph (write down the highlighted information that the class has identified as the main points).  We have successfully summarized that story!"

8. "Now you are each going to get to show how well you know how to summarize!  The story you are going to summarize is about a dog and a cat, and we are going to have to read to find out how this odd couple shows kindness to one another (pass out a copy for each student).  Use the summarization checklist to make sure you follow the same steps that we just went through as a class (pass out a copy for each student)."  After the students have finished their summaries, I will use a checklist of my own to make sure that they summarized the story adequately.




Daughtry, Sarah.  "Super Snazzy Summaries."


National Geographic. Can Animals be Nice? August 2007


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