Summarize This!

Reading to Learn

Bria Pete


Rationale: To become a successful and efficient reader, children must have the skills to comprehend what they read.  For a beginning reader to reach this goal, it is necessary to learn and practice summarization skills to identify and recall main ideas in a reading.  When students know how to properly summarize a passage they are able to comprehend the meaning of it better. Through this lesson, students will be able to summarize passages by picking out important information, eliminating trivial details, and organizing the main points into a main idea.



*Highlighter for each student

*Overhead Transparency of National Geographic Article: "Slow Down for Calvin The Right Whale"

*Overhead projector

*Vis-a-vis Marker

*Printed copy of National Geographic Article: "Slow Down for Calvin The Right Whale" for each student

*Lined paper for each student

*Summarizing poster with 3 points:

1.Pick out the most important information

2.Get rid of unnecessary information.

3.Write one to two sentences that include only the important information drawn from the passage

*Assessment Checklist:

Yes or No



Picked out most important information


Ignored unnecessary information


Created one-two sentence summary with important information



1.SAY: "Today, we are going to learn an important tool that will make us better readers. It is summarization. Does anyone know what that means?" Allow students to make guesses. "Well, summarization is the process of shrinking a passage into a sentence or two by taking out the unimportant parts and picking out the main facts that readers need to understand the story."

2.SAY: 'Let practice summarizing together." Hand each student a printed copy of the article, "Slow Down for Calvin the Right Whale", and a highlighter. Put the transparency of the article on the overhead.

3.SAY: "Lets read the first paragraph and try to summarize it." Teacher reads aloud the passage to students:

 In 1992, the mother of a North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) was hit and killed by a ship in Canada's Bay of Fundy.  Researchers studying these whales named the 8-month-old baby Calvin because they knew that in order for it to survive, it would need to be feisty, like the character in the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes.

SAY: "Now let's look at the steps on our summarizing poster. First, I need to pick out the most important information." Underline important information: In 1992, mom of right whale, killed by a ship, baby survived, feisty like character in cartoon, Calvin and Hobbes. SAY: "Now that I have underlined the important information and ignored the unimportant parts, now I need to create a sentence about the summary. Let's try this: "In 1992, a mom of a right whale was killed by a ship, but her baby survived and was named Calvin, because he was as feisty as the character in the cartoon, Calvin and Hobbes."

4.SAY: "See, instead of writing two long sentences, I wrote one sentence that told me the same important information. Let's try the next paragraph together. Read the next paragraph silently to yourselves, mark out the unimportant information and highlight the important information. Once you have finished, we will work together to create a summary." Give students time to read and highlight.

5.SAY: "What were some important things that you highlighted?" Review their answers and circle good answers on the transparency. SAY: "Now that we have the important facts, let's make a summary sentence. Any ideas?" Work with students to create a summary.

6.SAY: "Now, on your own, I want you to read the last two paragraphs in the article and create a one- two sentence summary. Remember to highlight your important passages, cross out the unimportant passages and write your summary on a sheet of paper. Turn in your summary stapled to your highlighted paper. "


Assessment: Students will be assessed on their summarization sentences. I will use a checklist to assess their progress and to determine if any students need further help and practice with this skill.




Fox, Catherine Clark. "Slow Down for Calvin the Right Whale." National Geographic Kids.


Gluckman, Amanda. "Long Story Short".


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