Sum It Up, Sum It Up, Keep those Main Ideas Up!


Reading to Learn

Beth Crenshaw


Rationale: As students read and become readers with advanced fluency, it is vital for them to develop an understanding of what they are reading. In order for this to happen, students must learn how to comprehend what they are reading, and they have to learn a skill, such as summarization, to produce comprehension of a reading. Students need to learn summarization strategies while reading and should practice the strategies frequently to gain understanding of indentifying the main ideas in a reading. In this lesson, students will learn the steps of summarization, and then practice the steps through two readings that are found interesting to them.  First, students will delete any trivial or repeated information. Then, students will select the main idea through keeping the main events or items from the text. Last, students will compose a statement that summarizes the main idea of the text.



National Geographic for Kids articles, one for each student: "What's Wild About African Wild Dogs?" and "Green Invaders"

Students need: paper, pencil, highlighter


Poster with Summarization Steps: 1. Highlight important details 2. Scratch out repeated or unimportant details 3. Organize important parts by summarizing what you have learned

Summarization Checklist, for each student

Did the student



Mark out unimportant information



Mark out repeated




Highlight important information



Construct a few sentences that included the main idea





1. Today, we are going to learn about an important tool we can use while we are reading, and it will make us all better readers. Has anyone heard of summarization? Does anyone know what this word mean? Summarization is the process of cutting out unimportant information in what we read, and then picking out the main ideas or facts in the story so that we understand what we are reading. We do not want to focus on the small details, but the main points from what we read. So we are going to try summarization together, and let's see if we can do it.


2. Now, we are going to review the steps to summarization, and I will explain each step as we go (show the poster with the steps of summarization on it). The first step, pick out important details. Which means you can use your highlighter to select the main ideas. The second step, find details that are repeated or not that important in the text, and get rid of them. We will use our pencil to scratch these words and sentences out. The third and last step, organize the important parts, or what you have left, to make main idea sentences that summarizes what you have learned from the reading, which you will record on your notebook paper. To begin with, you will be working with a partner to create main ideas, and having a partner will help you to make revisions on your main ideas. Then we will have an article to read by ourselves to create main ideas and summarize the articles.


3. Now we are going to work together to practice the summarization steps, and we are going to read "Green Invaders." The invaders are taking over our country, but they are not from space. They are plants. Which many do not think they are dangerous to our country, but they can be. We are going to read more of this article and find out why plants are invaders to our country. Pass out copies of the article and have time for students to read the article silently. After students have completed the reading, read the article aloud. Now that we have read the article, we are going to summarize the article using our three steps of summarization, and we are going to summarize each paragraph in this article. First we need to highlight the important details from each paragraph. Can anyone share any important details in our first paragraph? (The article will be projected on the SmartBoard, and I will complete the summarization steps by highlighting and marking out details.) Now, what about any facts that we do not need or that might be repeated? Can we mark any words or sentences? When we find sentences or words that are not needed, we cross them out with our pencil, and I will cross through it on the board too. After completing the first two steps, we are going to summarize what is important from the paragraph. We take what we have highlighted and create a few summarization sentences that allow other readers to understand what the paragraph or reading is about. Great job!


4. I am going to review the article with the class and check for comprehension through asking questions. 1. How are plants invading our country? 2. Why are the plants harming our country? 3. How could we prevent plants from harming our habitats?


5. We will then go through the next paragraph together, following the same steps in number 3. Then we will use the rest of the article to summarize the entire article. The students might struggle with combining several ideas together, but they will need to understand the importance of getting rid of unneeded ideas and keeping the most important details. After completing the first article as a class, the students will then try the second article, "What's Wild About African Wild Dogs?" by themselves. They will not summarize each paragraph, but instead the entire article. What are wild dogs? What do you think the difference in wild dogs and our pet dogs? These wild dogs we are going to read about live in Africa close to the desert. These dogs do not have five toes like our pet dogs, but have four. You will have to read the rest of the article to find out the other differences between pet dogs and these wild dogs.


6. I am going to review the article with the class and check for comprehension through asking questions. 1. Why are Wild Dogs "wild"? 2. How are these dogs different from our typical pet dogs? 3. How could we protect wild dogs and other animals?


7. Assessment: Evaluation of the class read article, for participation and accuracy. Students will begin practicing summarization on their own, and I will evaluate for accurate summaries of this article. Using the checklist, the students will need to have made progress between understanding how to complete the activity to completing the activity individually. The results of the checklist will indentify the strategies the students use, and what concepts I need to review with the students. I will also evaluate the students' answers to the comprehension questions.



"What's Wild About African Wild Dogs?"

 "Green Invaders"

Sum It All Up!, Greer Montgomery,

Remember, Remember, Lindsey Goodwyn,

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