Summarizing With the Sea Turtles

Reading to Learn

Cathryn Albright


Rationale: Comprehension is the final step in students' reading development. Reading for comprehension implies that a student is no longer focused on decoding but instead they are concerned with the actual message of the text. Comprehension is crucial for students to be successful in reading. In this lesson, students will practice summarization as a comprehension strategy. The students will summarize by selecting important information and eliminating unnecessary details. The teacher will model how students differentiate between important and unimportant information to show the students how to write a concise and effective summary.


- Turtle Travels from National Geographic (one copy for each student)

- Highlighters

- Pens or pencils

- Paper 

- Summarization check sheet (attached)  



1. Say: Today we are learning how to use summary to improve our reading comprehension. Comprehension is important because it helps us understand the message of the text. Summarization is one way that we develop reading comprehension. When we summarize a passage we are taking the information and shrinking it down to include only the important information.

2. Say: When we read for comprehension, we read silently and fluently. Before we practice summarizing, I want everyone to practice reading silently. Remember instead of reading the words out loud we want to think about the words in our heads so that we do not disturb our neighbors.  Now I will show you how I read a sentence silently.  The teacher should write My frog Pat is fat with big, black spots. Say:  First, I am going to read this sentence out loud: My frog Pat is fat with big, black spots. Next I am going to whisper the sentence: My frog Pat is fat with big, black spots. Now I am going to mouth the words in the sentence silently (My frog Pat is fat with big, black spots).  Finally, I will read the sentence silently in my head.  The teacher should read the sentence silently for the children to observe.

3. Say: Now I am going to write a sentence on the board, and I want everyone to read it silently. The teacher should write My mom's favorite flavor of ice-cream is mint chocolate chip. on the board. The teacher should allow the students a few moments to read the sentence. Say: What is my mom's favorite flavor ice cream? Mint chocolate chip.

4. Say: Now that we have practiced reading silently, we are going to learn how to summarize text passages. First, I am going to write some general guidelines for writing summaries on the board. The teacher should write: 1) Determine the main idea of the text, 2) Find important points, 3) Eliminate trivial details.

5. The teacher should pass out copies of Turtle Travels to the students. Say: I want everyone to read the first segment of this article under the heading Out of the Sand silently. Look up at me when you have finished reading. The teacher should allow the students a few minutes to read this segment. Then teacher should then model how to think aloud to find the main idea of this paragraph. Say: So what is the main idea of this paragraph? I think it has something to do with how sea turtles hatch from eggs--does everyone agree? The teacher should allow students to share their ideas about them main idea of this segment.

6. Say: Now I want everyone to take out their yellow highlighters. Now let's look back at the first segment of this article and highlight the important parts of this passage. The teacher should allow the students to have time to read the article. Say: I think one important idea is that the temperature affects whether the hatchling will be a boy or a girl. Who can tell me another important point of this section? After the students give important ideas, the teacher should expound on them and explain who they are important to the meaning of the passage as a whole. Then the teacher should allow the students to have time to highlight important points.

7. Say: The next step in summarization is to get rid of all the trivial details. After reading this segment, I think that the first sentence about a starry night in August is probably not that important to the passage as a whole. Can someone tell me an unimportant detail that you found in this segment? The students should give their ideas and the teacher should explain why these points are unimportant to the passage as a whole. Say: Now I want everyone to look back at this section and use a pen to cross out all of the unimportant details that you find.  The teacher should allow the students a few minutes to look back at the article and scratch out the trivial details.

8. Say: Now I want us to consider the article as a whole. Using what we have learned about summarization, I want everyone to read the entire article and do the following: find the main idea of the article, highlight important points, and mark out trivial details. Then I want everyone to use this information to compose a brief summary of no more than five sentences. I am passing out a check sheet that should help you in writing your summaries. After you have completed your summary, staple it to your highlighted article and turn it in to me. Does everyone understand what to do?

Assessment: I will evaluate the students' summaries using the check sheet that I gave them.  The students will also answer comprehension questions about the article.


Barrow, Morgan. Details, Details, Details.

Miller, Gary. Turtle Travels.  National Geographic.

Summarization Check Sheet

Directions: After reading Turtle Travels, compose a summary of the article that meets the following requirements. I will use the chart below when evaluating your summaries, so use this as a guide for writing your summary. After you have finished your summary, attach a copy of the highlighted article to the back of your summary.

Summary Requirements:



Student highlighted important ideas (yellow).



Student marked out unnecessary trivia (pen).



Summary used complete sentences.



Summary captured main idea of text.



Student identified topic accurately in their summary.



Summary included main points of article.



Summary omitted trivia.












Turtle Travels Comprehension Questions

1.  Describe the hatching process of the sea turtles.

2. What period of a sea turtle's life is known as the lost years? Why is it called the lost years?

3. What dangers do sea turtles face in the ocean?

4. How does the sea turtle lay eggs?

5. What can we do to help save the sea turtles?

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