Flipping into Summarization

Reading to learn, Jessica Brown


When students are in the upper elementary grades, it is crucial that they have comprehension skills.  Summarization is a great way to assess students' comprehension by having them recall the important points from a passage or story. However, until students are provided with instruction on how to summarize, many find it difficult to construct summaries on their own. This lesson will teach children through modeling how to summarize by deleting trivial and redundant information and focusing on the most important information to create a summary.


~ Copy of the article "A Rare Dolphin Discovery" from Time for Kids magazine (April 3, 2009) for each student 

~ Copy of the summarization checklist for each student

~ Paper

~ Pencil

~ Dry Erase Board and Marker


1. Begin by discussing with the students that the purpose of reading something to understand it.  Then, explain to them that there are several ways to go about comprehending a story and one way to do so is summarization.  Ask them, “Does anyone know what summarization means?"  Depending on their responses, explain that summarizing is retelling something in our own words, but only including the main parts.  Tell the students, "I am going to teach a few necessary steps that will help you begin to summarize your readings, and then we will practice summarizing some text together."

2. There are three easy steps to summarization. Write these steps on the board and explain them.  Also, pass out these three steps in a checklist format so that the students can use it to follow when they are summarizing.

Step 1:  Keep the most important details.

Step 2:  Get rid of the less important details.

Step 3:  Write it in your own words.

3. Next, pass out the article from Time for Kids magazine titled "A Rare Dolphin Discovery" to each student.  Tell them, "You may begin reading the article but, only read the first paragraph and when you are finished please look up at me."

4. Now, model for the students how to model the first paragraph.  Read the paragraph out loud to the students and ask them to listen for the important information.  Aloud, summarize the first paragraph for the students on the board, following the 3 steps above.  (Ex. There were very rare dolphins found in Norway.)  After modeling how to summarize the first paragraph, encourage the students to continue reading and to stop after every paragraph and write down the important information.  Also, remind them to use their own words when they are summarizing and remind them to use the three easy steps to summarization to help them.

5. Let the students continue to read the rest of the article silently and work on their summarizations. 

6. While the students are reading and working on their summaries, walk around and make sure that they are not having any problems and that they are only including the important details in their summaries.

7. Assessment:  Take up the students summaries and check that they only kept the important details, got rid of the less important ones, and used their own words in their summaries.



Lincoln, Katie. "A Splendid Summarization."




 "A Rare Dolphin Discovery" Time for Kids magazine. April 10, 2006http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/news/story/0,6260,1181896,00.html

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