Keys to Summarization

Reading to learn

Haden Casey

Rationale:   The final goal of learning to read is comprehension.  In order for a child to become a successful reader, they must be able to summarize what they read.  When summarizing, children should be able to identify the important parts of texts they have read.  In this lesson children will learn to identify the important parts of the texts that they have read.  By deleting trivial information, deleting redundant information, substituting easy terms for a list of items, and creating a topic sentence, students will be able to remember factual information better.


Paper and pencils for each student

Dry erase board

Dry erase markers

Colored pencils

Poster to post on board with three key summarization techniques:  Pick out important ideas; Eliminate less important details; Organize the important ideas into one main idea.

Article for each child – Wind at Work. Geiger, Beth.

One article for yourself - Out for Blood.  Costigan, Shirleyann.


1.  First see if the class knows what summarization is, "Does anyone know what summarization is?"  Have a class discuss on summarization.  "Summarization is picking out the important facts out of something that you are reading.  When you summarize, you do not add all the details, but focus on the main ideas.  Today, we're going to learn how to summarize.  This will help make us better readers.  Now we are going to read to ourselves silently at our desks. 

2.  "There are three steps to summarizing a story."  Read the students a short paragraph of a story and model how to summarize it.  For example the article Out for Blood. "First I will read the story all the way through (read the story aloud).  Then, to summarize I will go back through and pick out all of the important ideas that the story has to have to make sense (underline a few key points of the story).  After I have picked out all of the important ideas I can cross out the ones that are not important like this (demonstrate crossing out irrelevant sentences).  Now I can read through the parts of the story I already decided were important (reread underlined sentences) and create one single idea (write a summative sentence)."  As you model each of the steps, point to the poster with the summarization techniques on it.  After modeling how to summarize do one more quick review of the steps on the poster.  "Before we begin reading, let's go over the three important things to remember when you read.  The first step is to pick out important ideas from the story.  Then we get rid of the details that are not important.  Last, we organize the important ideas and make one main idea of the story."

3.  Pass out and introduce the article Wind at Work to each student.  Go over the summarization techniques again, and then have the students read the first paragraph of the article.   Then have the students reread the paragraph and tell them, "When you read the story the second time, cross out all the information that is not important to the story with a pencil, circle the sentences that you think are important and then finally, take all the circled sentences and combine them into a sentence or two that summarizes the whole article."  Tell them to use the three summarization techniques.  Tell them to write down the facts that they think are important.  Model the three facts that you think they should have picked out of the paragraph.  This will help them when they summarize again later.

4.  The students should have a basic understanding of how to summarize a story now that they have had practice.  Pass out a piece of paper to each student.  Tell them to make three columns.  In the first column, they should put "Deleted Information."  In the second column, they should put "Important Facts."  In the third column, they should put "Most Important Ideas."  Explain to them to fill in information from the story into the three columns.  Model for the students using the first paragraph again.   Explain that they can use the cross out, circle method but the things they cross out and circle should then be placed in the right columns.  "Please finish reading your article silently. You should have three columns on your paper, write the sentences in the column that they fit under as you read the article, if it helps continue to cross out unimportant information and circle important stuff. Remember to write down all of your information as you go."

5.  Continue to practice summarization strategies so that students can successfully master the skill of summarizing.


 By checking the student’s sheet with their summarization columns, you can assess their skills by seeing whether they have used the cross out, circle method and placed the information is the correct columns.  You may also ask them comprehension questions about the article they have read to see if they are recognizing the important information that is necessary to summarize what they have read.



Duncan, Megan.  Dive Into Summarizing.


National Geographic Article.  Wind at Work.


National Geographic Article.  Out for Blood.

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