To Sum It All Up…

Reading to Learn

Cassie Simpson


Rationale:  Our goal when reading is to comprehend, and one strategy to improve reading comprehension is summarization.  As students begin reading expository texts, it is vital for them to be able to pick out and summarize the main themes and ideas of texts.  This lesson will equip students with summarization tools, and they will practice these using an expository article and graphic organizer.




Dry erase board

Dry erase markers

smartboard and markers (or projector)

Children’s articles: “Players with Pride” and “Just Call Him Toadzilla!” from Time for Kids Magazine

Bookmark checklist for summarizing:

          Pick out important details that are necessary to the story.

Pick out less important or repeated ideas from the passage and cross through them.

Highlight the important and necessary details using key words.

Pick out a topic sentence.

Create a topic sentence if there isn’t one.


1.  “Before we begin, we are going to review reading silently because later we will be reading an article silently.  Remember what we talked about while reading silently.  Watch me and tell me how well I can read silently.”  Over-dramatize the eyes fixating on each word, and mouth the words as you read but do not make any sounds. 

2.  “Today we are going to learn about summarization, which is a very helpful tool when you are reading.  Can anyone tell me what summarization is?”  See if students have some kind of background knowledge that summarizing involves reading a text and picking out the important parts or main ideas and deleting the information that isn’t important.

3.  “I am going to teach you five easy ways to help you remember how to summarize.”  Pass out bookmarks to each student (these can be easily created using the checklist already mentioned).  Explain each process of summarizing.  “Let’s look at our bookmarks.  The first thing we do is pick out the important details that are necessary to the story or article.  Then we are going to decide what is not very important and delete it.  Next we will highlight the important details by using the key words.  We pick out a topic sentence, and finally we create a topic sentence if there isn’t one.”

4.  “Now that you’ve learned how to summarize, I’m going to show you one way to use that strategy.  Sometimes it’s easy to create a web when summarizing.  When you are reading, think about what you think is important so you can come back to it once you finish.  When you create a web, you are going to map out those important details from the story or article that you read.”

5.  Pull up “Just Call Him Toadzilla!” onto the Smartboard.  “This article is an example of a factual article like the one you are going to read.”  Read the short article to the class for modeling purposes.  “While I read, I’m going to make some mental notes in my head about what I think might be important.  I now know from my reading that this article is about cane toads so I am going to write ‘cane toads’ in the middle of my web (draw on dry erase board).  When I re-read, the first important fact I come to is ‘15-inch-long toad,’ so I’m going to draw a line out on my web and write that fact because it’s important to know how big the frogs are.  I read a little further, and I know that it’s not really very important what Graeme Sawyer says, so I am going to cross out that line.  Now who can tell me what the next important fact is in the article?”  After modeling twice, scaffold the students so they can begin to try to find important facts.  Go down the checklist, writing the important information and topic sentence on the web and deleting the unimportant information.

6.  Now give each student a copy of “Players with Pride,” a piece of white paper and have them get out a pencil.  “In Nairobi, Kenya, children love to play soccer.  However, Nairobi is the largest slum in Kenya so a new program has just started to teach these kids to take pride in their community.  Before the kids play soccer they are ‘Players with Pride’ and work to clean up the city.  Now you are going to read this article and practice your summarizing skills.  Use the bookmark to help remind you of the steps to summarization.  I want you to create a web or map that summarizes the article.”

Assessment:  Have the students turn in their webs and compare with the checklist from the bookmark.  The students will also use their webs to write a summary of the text.  I will evaluate the summary to see if students identify the steps listed on the checklist.

Barton, Sarah.  “Summarizing Success!!!!”

“Just Call Him Toadzilla!” Time for Kids Magazine. April 6, 2007.  Volume 12.  Issue 23.,17585,1605951,00.html

Pickerill, Martha.  “Players with Pride.”  Time for Kids Magazine.  March 30, 2007.  Volume 12.  Issue 22.,17585,1602967,00.html

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