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Remember What's Important!

to Learn Design

Marthe Schreitmueller

Rationale: Summarizing is a skill that can help children improve their reading comprehension.  Since comprehension is the most important aspect of successful reading, learning to summarize could be extremely beneficial to children’s learning.  They should be able to identify and pick out the most important parts of text whenever they read.  Using this strategy often helps students better comprehend reading material.  This activity will introduce children to the strategy of summarization and will give them a chance to practice it using an interesting article.



  1. Ask students: “Has anyone heard of the word summary before?”  Explain to them: “Summarizing is when you pick out the most important parts from something that you read.  When you summarize, you focus on the main ideas and leave out the unimportant details.  Today, we’re going to go over how to summarize, which can help you all become better readers.  We will begin by having you read silently at your desks.  Remember, that reading silently means that you do not read out loud.  Instead, read to yourself so that no one else can tell what you are reading.”
  2. Explain to students: “There are three important steps to follow when you summarize.”  Put the poster up with the summarization techniques listed on it and go over each one.  “Before we begin to read, let’s talk about these three steps.  The first step is to pick out the most important ideas from the story, the second step is to throw away the details that are unimportant, and the third step is to organize those ideas to be left with one main idea from the story.  Let me show you how I summarize.” Read the first section (bypass the introduction) out loud from the article Tiny Invaders – Germs are Lurking Everywhere! and model how to summarize it.  Write out the procedure and discuss the reasoning behind your choices.  "Some ideas that I think are important are that germs are everywhere even though you can't see them, they are spreading faster because people can travel anywhere, sick people bring germs with them, and they can also live in food, clothes, and other things.  Now, if I eliminate the unimportant details, I am left with germs are everywhere and that they are spreading faster because sick people bring them with them.  Lastly, the main idea from this section is that germs are everywhere and they spread fast." Have the students think about what is important and what is not in the text.  Pick out excerpts and ask them “Is this important for us to know?  Why/why not?”  Give an article talk to get students interested in reading the rest of the article.  Explain that if they read the rest of the article, "It will explain what can make you sick and how to stay healthy."
  3. Pass the article out to each student.  Before focusing on summarizing, have them read silently through it.  After they are finished, go over each of the three summarization techniques once more.  Then, have the students reread the article.  Tell them, “This time, when you reread the article, cross out the information that is not important and make a circle around what is important.  Once you are finished, look at the circled sentences and combine them into a sentence or two that sums up the whole article.”  Remind students to use the three summarization techniques that you modeled earlier. 
  4. Now, the students should have a basic understanding of how to summarize text.  Pass out a piece of paper to each student and tell them to create three columns on it.  The first column should be labeled “Deleted Information,” the second column should be labeled “Important Information,” and the third column should be labeled “Most Important Idea(s).”  Instruct them to “Take another look at the information in the article and write the parts under the column where they belong.”  Remind students to read silently so that they do not disturb other people.  As a class, take the first paragraph and determine which column the pieces of information would go under.  If a student has difficulty putting the information into the correct columns, allow them to continue using the cross out and circle method. 
  5. Use other texts to practice the summarization strategies so that students can successfully acquire the skill of summarizing.
  6. Assessment:  Assess student’s summarization skills by observing their work.  Focus on whether they could use the cross out and circle method and column method effectively. 


Let’s Summarize! – Jane Moncrief

Tiny Invaders – Germs are Lurking Everywhere!  By Kirsten Weir at

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