Sum It All Up!



Reading to Learn Design

Greer Montgomery

Rationale: As students read and become better readers, it is important for them to know how to gain meaning and what the story is about.  Summarizing is also a strategy to gain comprehensive strategies, and through students knowing how to summarize, they are learning what the most important information is from the reading.  Although there are many comprehension strategies, this lesson will focus on teaching students how to summarize in their own words their text selection. Students will also learn strategies for selecting the critical information from text, especially expository text.


Class set of Mice with Tans? Eeeeeek!  article from the National Geographic Kids website

Leopard Lessons article (from National Geographic website)




Black board

Assessment checklist for each student:

Did the student:



Comprehends the information

Get rid of unnecessary information.



Pick out the most important information



Write at least one sentence that covers everything that is important information from the passage.





1. "Today, we are going to learn an important tool that will help make you all better readers. Have you heard of the summarization? Summarization is the process of cutting out pointless information in what we read and picking out the main facts that we as readers need to get the story." "Has anyone ever written a summary, or summarized what they had read?"  "Why is summarizing important?" (Helps for us, as readers, to determine what the important information is and what is not important).

2. Have the steps to summarize written on the board for all students to see.  "There are five steps to summarize. First, you pick out all the important details.  Second, you find details that are repeated or that are not important to the text and get rid of them.  Third, you use key words to highlight the important details.  Fourth, you put the key words in order as they appear in the passage.  Fifth and lastly, you use the key words list to make a topic sentence." "Let's make a list of what you think you would need to make a good summary." Guide students to say things such as getting rid of unnecessary information, pick out the best information, write one or two sentences that cover everything important.

3. "Let's read Leopard Lessons from Nation Geographic and I will show you how I summarize articles." I will model summarizing by reading and summarizing the first paragraph of this article. "The leopard cub was only eight days old when we spotted her. Her steps were still unsteady. Yet she was bold.  She should have been scared. Predators had killed five other cubs. Would they get this one too?"

- First, I am going to get rid of unneeded details.
Her steps were sill unsteady.
Yet she was bold.
Would they get this one too?
The cub was 8 days old.

- Next, I am to select what I think are the most important details that help me understand the text.
She should have been scared.
Predators had killed 5 other cubs.

- Finally, I am going to write a one sentence summary.
The cub ought to have been afraid because predators had killed other cubs.

5. The students will practice summarizing on their own. Each student will receive a copy of Mice with Tans? Eeeeeek!  article (from National Geographic) and use summarization strategies that we have practiced today to eliminate information that isn't necessary for the meaning of the article and pick out the important information. I will give the students a book talk before they begin to read silently: “Do you think that mice can get a tan? Well, this article tells us about the way scientists figured out how to give mice a sun tan! You will have to read to see how they did it!” The students will read the article silently; mark out the unnecessary information with your pencil; highlight the key information; write one or two sentence summary of what they have read.

4) After the students have read and wrote down a couple of summarization sentences, they will turn their sentences in and then get into groups of 2-3.  Once they have formed their groups, they will discuss the article and share what they did to summarize the articles. This will allow the students to share different techniques to summarize a story. 


Students will be assessed on their summarization sentences.  I will use a checklist to assess their progress. Students are required to earn at least 3 out of the 4 checks possible. (See checklist above.) I will use this information to determine which kids need to work more on this skill.


National Geographic Kids. (2007)  Leopard Lessons.

National Geographic Kids. (2008) Mice with Tans? Eeeeeek!

Sweatt, Keri. So…What’s the Point?

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