Become a “Summarizer”

Reading to Learn

Eleanor McDavid

Rationale: Comprehension of a text is very important because it allows one to learn new material independently. Also, it is an important part of successful reading. Summarization is one of the different methods to help students learn skills for comprehension. Having the students pick out information in the text and assessing whether or not it is important will help them read and understand easier. In this lesson the students will be learning these different methods of summarization by learning the steps of summarization to the students and applying it to two articles using highlighters and fun fish activity sheets.



1. First the teacher should introduce the topic of summarization to the students by asking, “Can anyone describe what summarization is and how they do it.” Have a discussion about the views the students have on summarization and the methods they use to summarize. Tell the students that summarization is picking out the important facts out of something that you are reading. It is how one would make the story into a quick couple of sentences about the main points of the story, not all the little details. Next, the teacher should tell the students that they will be reading passages in which has interesting information on different animals and they will try to summarize these passages. The teacher should now remind his/her students to crosscheck. He/she could mention, “Since you are reading stories that have lots of facts, you might come across words that you do not know. If you don’t know a word, try crosschecking by finishing the rest of the sentence to piece the word’s meaning together like a puzzle.”

2. The teacher should now show the students the poster board with the different summarization techniques on it. The techniques include: Pick out main ideas/information, delete trivial information, relate the main and supporting information. He/she should tell the students they are going to watch and participate as he/she takes the article “The Great Koala Rescue” and passes out a copy to each student along with a highlighter to each student. He/she should read the article aloud to the students after introducing it with a “book talk.” The teacher could say, “This is a story about Koalas and their amazing lives. However, they face dangers daily faced by others and lack of food. We are going to find out more about these fascinating animals in this article.” After reading the article, he/she should model how to figure out what the main ideas/information is to the students. He/she could start by saying, “What is this story about? I know it is about koalas, the dangers that people cause for koalas, and ways to help out koalas stay happy and healthy. Maybe we should highlight the main ideas: koalas, the dangers that threaten them like people and environmental stress, and the sentence that talks about the ways we can help koalas.” After this the teacher should explain what kind of information can be discarded, like their sleeping habits, how much they eat, and the story about the baby koala and its mother. Lastly, the teacher needs to model how to relate the main facts into one to three good summative sentences. He/she could model by saying, “This article is about koalas and how people like us are making their world dangerous and we should try to help them out by trying to protect them.”

3. Now the students should try summarization on their own. The teacher should direct the students to look at the poster with steps for assistance. Also, that the highlighters help to point out important things.

4. After the teacher models how to take an article, read it, and summarize it, he/she should then pass out highlighters and the new article, “Cool Things about Elephants” after introducing it with another “book talk.” The teacher could say this in his/her book talk, “Elephants are very large creatures that are very mysterious, they have their own language and amazing memories and have very interesting lives. In this article we are going to find out more about these cool animals and the remarkable things they do.” Have the students read and summarize it. The teacher should have the students read at their desks. He/she should remind students that reading at their desks involves no talking and complete concentration on oneself. The teacher could also pass out the fish graphic organizer which helps students recognize that nonfiction articles and expository writing contains a main idea and supporting details. As they isolate specific information to record on the organizer, students make decisions regarding its relevance, thereby increasing their understanding that not all text is of equal importance.


 You can check their summarization skills by checking their final summarization statement and determine if they have a full comprehension of the article. Also, you could ask the students some questions to see if they have a full understanding of the article.

1. In the wild, elephants travel to the same tree due to their amazing ---.

2. Most times elephants talk quietly to each other by low noises, the elephants in this article were described as ---.

3. Elephants are very smart and use which part of their body as a hand to “handle” things?

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Newman, Aline Alexander. “Cool Things about Elephants”

Musgrave, Ruth. “The Great Koala Rescue”

Fish graphic organizer on main ideas            icorg_pdfs_mainidea.pdf

Moncrief, Jane. “Let’s Summarize!”

"The Great Koala Rescue" by Ruth Musgrave

Every day rescuers, scientists, and citizens work to help save koalas from extinction. Not too long ago, millions of koalas thrived in Australian forests. Then people moved in, cutting down trees to build roads, houses, factories, and malls.

Koalas stay in the trees as much as possible, preferring to spend little time on the ground. A koala's life consists mainly of sleeping 18 hours during the day and devouring up to two pounds of eucalyptus leaves at night. (That's about as much as two heads of lettuce.) Now there are fewer trees, and koalas face more dangers as they walk greater distances to get from tree to tree. They must walk through yards, across streets, and possibly into danger to reach another eucalyptus.

On the ground, koalas are often hit by cars or attacked by dogs.

Less obvious problems also threaten koalas. "They're extremely sensitive to environmental stress," McGill says. "It's causing infection, disease, and other problems in already struggling populations." Unable to adapt to the changing environment, koalas' numbers dropped drastically.

What are people doing to help save koalas? They're keeping pets in at night and planting trees for koalas to feed on. Warning signs remind drivers to watch out for koalas crossing roads. Most important, citizens continue to work hard to pass laws that protect koalas' remaining forests.

The koala mother that was rescued from the fence, along with her frightened joey, had a short hospital stay. Then rescuers released the healthy animals back into the wild. The joey, riding piggyback on his mom, held on tight as she climbed up a tree. Together they disappeared into the leaves, happy to settle in for some dinner.