Leaving an Important Message

Caitlin Pickelsimer

Reading to Learn

Rationale: Comprehension is the goal of reading.  A great strategy for students to use in comprehension is to summarize the information.  In this lesson students learn to identify important and less important details of a text in creating a summary. 


Highlighter (one for each student), Black Marker (one for each student), Copies of “The Secret Language of Dolphins,” National   Geographic for Kids. Reported Crispin Boyer.  April 13, 2009. (Enough so each student has a copy.), "It was snowing when I looked outside this morning.  So I put on my heavy coat. I put my boots on too.  The coat is black and the boots are red.  I will stay warm." (Written on a chart.)


1. I will start the lesson by saying, “Today we are going to learn some fun skills that will help us learn.  These new skills will teach us how to read something know how to come up with a summary of the book that we have read.  A summary is going to tell the important parts of the book that we are going to read.  This will help us in understanding exactly what the story was about.”

2. “Follow along with me as I read this paragraph and make a summary.  “It was snowing when I looked outside this morning.  So I put on my heavy coat. I put my boots on too.  The coat is black and the boots are red.  I will stay warm.”

3. “Now let’s go through and highlight some important things in this paragraph.  The main idea of the paragraph is that it was snowing and the person put on their warm clothes.  Snowing is an important word so I am going to highlight it, but the rest of the sentence is not that important so I am going to mark it out.  We can also mark out the two sentences that describe the jacket and boots gear because it can be made into one.  The colors and parts of the snow gear are important so I will highlight those.  Now I have all the important parts of this paragraph highlighted in yellow.  I can easily remember what the main idea of this paragraph is.  Now let’s take all the highlighted information and make a short summary of this paragraph.” Allow students to help you come up with a summary. 

4. “Now it’s your turn! This is an article from National Geographic for Kids about The Secret Language of Dolphins. Have you ever wondered how dolphins communicate to each other? In this article we are going to figure out how dolphins can carry a message between them. I wonder how they do it?  You are going to use your highlighter and black marker when you read this article to yourself. Once you have read the article go back and highlight the important facts and use the black marker to cross through the non-important facts.

5. “Now use the highlighted parts to make a summary of this article. Remember a summary is written in your own words and has only important information in it.”

6. “When you are done share your summary with a partner. Talk about how they are similar and different.”

Assessment: Check each student's summary, and answer the following questions about each child:

          -Was the student able to eliminate unimportant details?

          -Was the student able to cut out redundant information?

          -Was the student able to identify important topic words?

          -Was the student able to identify the main idea of the article in a topic sentence?



Collier, Daniel “Summarization Squids.”


National Geographic for Kids – The Secret Language of Dolphins


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