Summarization Superstars

Reading to Learn

Stephanie Fleming


Rationale: Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading instruction, however, this task is complicated and requires practice.  There are various strategies that can be used to gain meaning and knowledge from a text.  One strategy is summarization.  Summarization is a key strategy that fluent readers use in order to understand text.  To be able to read and recall information from an expository text, children need direct instruction in how to appropriately summarize material.  By implementing these skills students will be better prepared to recall and discuss information from an assigned reading.  In this lesson, students will learn the six steps of summarization which will allow them to summarize what they are reading and ultimately gain a better understanding of the text.

Marker board

A bookmark for each student with the 6 summarization steps on it
      Summarization steps:
1.  Pick out important details that are necessary to the story.
2.  Pick out the less important ideas from the passage and delete them.
3.  Pick out the repeated ideas from the passage and delete them. 
4.  Highlight the important and necessary details using key words.
5.  Pick a topic sentence
6.  Invent a topic sentence if there is none.

Copy of Space Rock Makes a Crash Landing, National Geographic Kids News    
         for each student.


1. “Today we are going to talk about comprehension.  Does anyone know what that means?  The reason that we learn to read is so that we can comprehend, or understand, the information given in whatever we are reading.  When we comprehend, we understand what we are reading and are able to remember what we read even after we are finished.  So, today we are going to learn some steps that will help us comprehend what we read.  This new technique I am going to talk about is summarization.  When we summarize we decide which information in the story or writing is important for understanding.  Today we are going to practice summarizing by reading through the story and picking out the main idea and the most important details, and forgetting about the things that don’t go along with the main idea."

2.  Now I will explain summarization.  I will have the six rules already written on the board so that I can refer to them as I introduce them.  The first step is to pick out important details that we think are necessary to the storyThe second step is to pick out the less important ideas and take them away.  The third step is to pick out ideas that are repeated and take them away.  The fourth step is to highlight the important details using key words.  For the fifth step we pick a topic sentence.  And our last step is to invent a topic sentence if we don’t have one.  I’m going to pass out bookmarks to each of you that have these steps on them so you won’t forget our 6 steps of summarization.  You can use these whenever you need a little help.

3.  "Now that we’ve talked about comprehension and summarization, we are going to read something and see if we can use our new steps.  Before I pass out the article, I'm going to tell you a little bit about it.  We are going to read a passage about something very unusual that happened.  A New Zealand couple had a surprise visitor in turned their world upside down.  So if you want to find about more about this surprise visitor, you'll need to read on.  So, read the first paragraph SILENTLY to yourselves. This means that you will read what is in the passage without saying the words out loud.  This lets each person concentrate on what they are reading.  Also, while you are reading, make sure that you are getting enough information so that you will be able to summarize the paragraph after you read it.  When summarizing, remember how important it is to make sure that you are trying to separate the important details from the ones that might not be so important.”

4.  After the class is finished reading, I am going to model the 6 steps of summarization with the whole class.  I am going to use the first paragraph of the text in order to make sure they understand all of the steps and I am going to write all of the responses on the board.  "After reading through the first paragraph, these are the main points that I came up with.  1) A grapefruit size meteorite crashed through a roof.  2) The house was in New ZealandDid anybody get anything different from me  As I go on through the story, I’m going to use all of our steps.  I just did our first step and picked out what I thought were the important details.  My next step is to pick out the less important points from the paragraph.  I think these would be: 1)  The meteorite slammed into a couch.  2)  Hit the ceiling.  3)  It rolled under a table.  Did anyone get something different?  What is my next step?  Right, take away any repeated information.  Did anyone see anything repeated.  OK, then we’ll move onto the next step- highlight some keywords.  I thought that the keywords were grapefruit sized, meteorite, roof, and New Zealand.  Did anybody come up with any other wordsWhat do I need to do now?  Right!  I need a topic sentence.  The topic sentence I came up with isA grapefruit sized meteorite crashed through the roof of a house in New Zealand.’  Did anybody get something else?  Good!  Since we just came up with our topic sentence, we don’t need to do step 6 because that step is inventing a topic sentence."  Make sure that all of this is written on the board so that they will be able to use it as a model when they are reading/summarizing the rest of the article by themselves.  Also, make sure to discuss any of the discrepancies that arised between my answers and student answers so the students can gain a better understanding of summarization.

5.  "Does everybody feel comfortable with summarizing now?  Great!  Now that everyone knows what they are doing, I want you to read the rest of the article silently and summarize it to yourself using the 6 steps we talked about.  If you need any help you can look on the board or at your bookmarks."  

6.  When they have finished reading silently, they will summarize the article on their own.  "Now that you are all finished reading, take out your piece of paper and pencil, and summarize the article.  Make sure that you remember to list the important details of the article.  Separate the important details from the less important ones.  Remove any repeated information.  Then, make sure to list your keywords that you create from the important details.  Last, use your keywords and your main points to pick your topic sentence, or use them to form your own topic sentence.  If you have any questions, please raise your hand and I’ll come and help you.”

Assessment:  I will take up the student’s summarizations to see how well they understood the concept.  When assessing each student’s summarizations, I will have a checklist with the six rules on it and I will check “yes” next to the rule if they followed it and “no” next to a rule if they did not.  Also, the entire time they are working on their summarizations, I will walk around to make sure that they are following the steps written on the board and on their bookmarks.


Gamble, Beth.  Super Space Summarization.

“Space Rock Makes a Crash Landing.”  Staff.  National Geographics Kids Magazine.  18 April 2005.

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