Tell Me All About It!

By Marianna Waits

Reading to Learn

Rationale: The goal of reading is that you are able to comprehend what you are reading!  Being able to read the text is great but you also have to be able to understand what its saying.  This lesson will help students be able to summarize what they are reading by picking out details that are less or more important than other ones.  This will help students with their comprehension.


Highlighters for each student

Pencil for each student

Paper for each student

Black markers for each student

Copy of the article "Godzilla" Fossils Reveals Real-Life Sea Monster for each student (

Poster with paragraph written on it (Last weekend I was very busy.  I rode my bicycle around the block.  Lucy did not ride her bike.  Then I went fishing in the pond.  I forgot my bait.  After I went fishing I had a picnic in the park.)

Poster with rules written on it (1. Get rid of any unnecessary or repeated information.  2. Pick out the most important items or events.  3. Write a statement that covers everything the author is trying to say about the topic.)


1. Hi friends! Today we are going to learn something very important about reading.  We are going to learn how to read a text and create a summary of what we have read.  Some of you may have had practice doing this and so it may be a review, but others of you have not had any practice and this will help you become even better readers than you already are.  Summaries are things that help tell about the information we read in a text in a real quick way.  This will help you understand what you are reading better.


2. I am going to show you a sentence and I want you to read it silently.  Reading silently means that your lips will be moving but nothing will be coming out of them, no sounds at all!  I will show you by reading a sentence aloud and then I will read it silently.  "Last weekend I was very busy."  Now read the sentence silently so you are modeling for the students’ silent reading.  Now I am going to read this entire paragraph aloud.  While I am reading it aloud to the class I want each of you reading it with me silently.  "Last weekend I was very busy.  I rode my bicycle around the block.  Lucy did not ride her bike.  Then I went fishing in the pond.  I forgot my bait.  After I went fishing I had a picnic in the park."

3. Now we are going to talk about what is important in the paragraph we just read.  What is the most important idea in the paragraph?  The first sentence is, "Last weekend I was very busy."  So this little boy was very busy last weekend.  Let’s highlight last weekend and very busy.  On the poster board with the paragraph written on it highlight that information.  Now what can we do with the rest of the sentence?  Let’s cross it out.  Cross out all the information you did not highlight.  So we want to find out why this little boy was busy last weekend.  What other information tells us why he was busy?  That’s right – let’s highlight that he rode his bicycle, went fishing, and had a picnic.  Model this on the poster board by highlighting all of that information.  Let me think the main idea of this paragraph is that the boy was busy last weekend.  So do I really need to know where he rode his bike, went fishing, and had a picnic?  Maybe – these are details that are not the most important but they may be helpful when I summarize if I can remember them in addition to the really important stuff.  So I am not going to cross these out or highlight them.  But what about things that are just not important at all.  The fact that Lucy did not ride her bike didn’t have anything to do with why this little boy was busy.  And the fact that he forgot his bait does not matter either.  So I am going to cross this information out of the paragraph.  Cross that information out with a black sharpie.

4.  Now that I have decided what is the most important information, good supporting details, and information that really does not matter at all I can make a summary.  Let’s take the highlighted parts and make a summary.  Have the students help you at this point.  A good summary would be that, "the little boy was busy all last weekend because he was riding his bike, going fishing, and he went on a picnic."  It would be ok if they including where all of those things happened, but they do not have too. 

5.  When we summarize text there are three rules that we can remember to help us.  When we summarized that paragraph a few minutes ago we used them and you did not even realize it!  Have the poster with the rules written out on it ready and display it so the children can see it.  The first one is to get rid of any unnecessary or repeated information.  The second one is pick out the most important items or events.  The third one is write a statement that covers everything the author is trying to say about the topic.

6.  Pass out the articles to the students, the highlighters and the black sharpies.  Also pass out the pencils and writing paper.  We are going to read the first two paragraphs of this article all together.  "Scientists have discovered the fossil skull of a 135-million-year-old "sea monster" and nicknamed it Godzilla.  The large skull was found in southern Argentina in an area that was once part of the Pacific Ocean."  Now I want each of you to take your highlighters and highlight the important information then take your sharpie and cross out the information that is not important.  You want them to highlight things like; scientists, discovered, 135 million year old sea monster, Godzilla, skull, found, Argentina.  Hopefully they will cross out things like; the repeated word skull, large, southern, an area that was once part of the Pacific OceanNow take your important information that you highlighted and write a one sentence summary of those two small paragraphs.  The students should write something like Scientists discovered the skull of a 135 million year old sea monster in Argentina who they named Godzilla.  The students’ sentences may be shorter than this because they may not have decided to highlight all of the same information.

7.  Now that we used the first two small paragraphs to begin together I want you to finish up the article and practice on your own.  This article came from a magazine for kids, National Geographic.  As you can see it’s about the skull of a really old sea monster that scientists found.  I want you to read on to find out more about this sea monster and summarize what you read.  Read the article silently and use these three summarizing rules (point to the poster) to help you decide what to do.  Use your highlighters and sharpies like we did together.  Then write your summary sentences for each paragraph on the piece of paper with a pencil.  Give the students time to work on this.  It will take students a little bit to read the article, highlight, cross out and then write sentences.

8.  When the students are finished partner them up.  Now I want you to discuss with your partners the sentences you summarized for each paragraph.  Let the students have time to discuss with their partners what they each came up with.  Talk about it as a class if you would like after you collect the students papers.  For the assessment read the children’s papers.  Look to see if they followed the summarization rules; did they leave redundant information out, are the important ideas and main events included, and are they clear on what the author’s main idea was?


"Godzilla" Fossils Reveals Real-Life Sea Monster. Stefan Lovgren. National Geographic Kids News. November 22, 2005.  

What was THAT all about? Laura Beth Anderson.  

Nell Fleming, 1-2-3…A Summary.   

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