Let's Sum It All Up


Teaching Students How to Summarize

Jenn Miranda 

Rationale:  One of the most important goals students should learn is reading comprehension.  Without comprehension, students will not remember what they just read, thus making reading pointless.  Summarization is an example of a comprehension strategy.  Summarization means to take important ideas out of a passage.  This lesson will teach students how to summarize articles from National Geographic Kids Website.  By having students watch a model summarization of "Shark Tales" and using the chart created, students will be able to summarize a small section of the articles that will be passed out at the end of the lesson.   



Copy of "Shark Tales" for each student


Poster with the summarizing rules printed on it (get rid of unnecessary information, pick

 out the most important information, write a sentence that covers everything this

 important information).

Paper for each student

Pencils for each student


Articles for students (same article per 4 children- students will receive their own copy: 

“Bug Battles,” “Odd Couples,” “Viking Voyages,” and “On the Menu”





Checklist for assessment purposes

Did the student:



get rid of unecessary information



pick out the most important information



write a sentence that covers all of the important information






1.  I will start off the lesson by explaining why we are learning how to summarize.  “Today we are going to learn a reading skill called summarization.  When you summarize something, you take the main ideas out of a passage.  It is important to learn how to summarize because it helps us understand what we read.”


2.  Before starting the summarization lesson, I will review silent reading.  “When reading the passages I am about to hand to you, please read them to yourselves.  This means you read the words in your head and not out loud.”


3.  I will give book talk about the article we are about to read as a class.  “Today we are going to learn about sharks.  How many of you have ever seen a shark?  Wow, that’s a lot of you.  Well, sharks are often thought of as scary creatures, but in reality they are more afraid of humans than we are of them.  Sharks are hunted for their skeletons.  Many of the shark species are endangered.  We will have to read the article to learn more about sharks.”


4.  Next, I will pass out the “Shark Tales” article for everyone.  “We are going to learn how to summarize reading passages using this article.  I am going to model how to summarize the first passage in this article.  Everyone should pay attention to this poster (the summarization rules poster will be hanging on the blackboard).  I want everyone to read the first three sentences in the section of the titled “Shark Hunts.”  Read this silently to yourselves.  Look at the board when you are finished.”  (the sentences are as followed: 
                    Each year, humans kill 60 million sharks.  A key reason is to get shark cartilage.  That soft,
                    flexible material that makes up a sharks skeleton). 
The sentences are written on the board. 


5.  Model to the students how to summarize this passage.  “OK, now that everyone is finished reading the passage, I am going to teach you how to summarize this passage.  The first step is to get rid of unnecessary information.    I will cross off “that soft, flexible material that makes up shark skeleton.  Next, I will look for the important information the author has given us. I think that “humans kill 60 million sharks a year” is important and so is “a key reason is to get shark cartilage.”  I now am going to create a sentence that summarizes these three sentences.  Humans kill sharks every year for their cartilage.”


6.  Pass out the other articles to the students.  These articles are also divided into little sections.  Allow the students to choose their own subsection to summarize.  “I am going to pass out 4 different articles.  I would like each of you to pick a subsection like I did with the “Shark Hunts” section.  I will give you all 15 minutes to read your section silently and I want you to write your own summarization.  I am going to tell you all a little something about each article.  In “Bug Battles” we get to learn about katydids and mantids.  They are both kinds of insects.  The article tells us how they hunt for food, what they look like, and even what their bodies are made of!  So we will have to read on to find out more about katydids and mantids!  In “Odd Couples,” we will learn about some unlikely animal pairings in the wild.  The article explains why some animals work together such as cleaning, for food, and just for having fun.  We will have to read more of this articles to find out more about unlikely animal pairs.  In “Viking Voyages,” we will learn about an ancient group called the Vikings.  This group were sailors, farmers, and craftsmen.  We will have to read on to find out what life was like over 1,000 years ago!  “Finally, in the “On the Menu” article, we will learn about how animals escape predators.  Some animals hide, while others have things on their bodies to protect them from predators.  We will have to read the article to find out how other animals protect themselves from predators.”


Assessment:   Students will be assessed by the summarization sentences they write on the articles they have read.  I will use a checklist to assess their progress.  The checklist will include the rules listed on the chart used in class.  Students will receive a check for each rule they follow.  Students are required to earn at least 2 out of the 3 checks possible. This will allow me to see which students understood my model and which ones I need to work with a little more.




Barraclough, Lauren:  “It’s Time to Sum It All Up”



Kasl, Megan:  “Tell Me About It”



Articles found at National Geographic Kids Website:

example website:  “Shark Tales:” http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/0505/articles/mainarticle.html 


student articles:

“Bug Battles:” http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngexplorer/0605/articles/mainarticle.html

            “Odd Couples:”


“Viking Voyages:”


            “On the Menu:”


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