Diving into the ocean with Summarization

Reading to Learn

Abbie Simpson


Rationale: To become a successful and efficient reader, children must have the skills to comprehend what they read.  For a beginning reader to reach this goal, it is necessary to learn and practice summarization skills to identify and recall main ideas in a reading.  When students know how to properly summarize a passage they are able to comprehend the meaning of it better. This lesson will teach students to identify the important parts of texts they have read.  Students will learn one strategy of summarization through presentation of the strategy, modeling and guided practice. 


1) Poster with Summarization Rules on it:

Get rid of any unnecessary or repeated information. 

Pick out the most important items or events. 

Write a statement that covers everything the author is trying to say about the topic.

2) Highlighters; yellow and green (one for each student)

3) Paper (one for each student)

4) Pencils (one for each student)

5) Black Markers (one for each student)

6)  Checklist: Summarization (the checklist can be used while grading summaries and can also be used as a tool for the students to self check their work before turning it in).

_______Student highlighted important ideas (yellow).

_______Did not highlight trivia (green).

_______Summary used 1+ complete sentences.

_______Students identified topic accurately.

_______Students included key details.

_______Students omitted trivia.

_______Students captured main idea of text.


Article for each child-Giant Jellyfish Invasion



One article for yourself -- The Secret Language of Dolphins (project on board or copy on a poster)






1. Say: Class, today we are going to talk about how to write a summary. A summary is a brief statement that describes a longer article or story. It talks about what the big idea of the passage is. When we write a summary, we will only talk about the important things in the article. We are going to practice finding the important ideas in a story and getting rid of the describing details.
2. On the overhead, I have an article on dolphins. I am going to read the whole article through one time to make sure I understand the article. If there are words I do not know, I am going to decode them and look them up if I don'
t know them. Once I know and understand the article, I am going to start looking for my information. At this point, I would read the whole article aloud for the class. Then I would highlight the important information in yellow and the details in green.
3. Now that I know what the important information is, I am going to write my summary. I will write sentences using this information. Here I will model how to write a summary while asking the students for help.
4. It is your turn to write a summary. Each of you has a copy of the Jellyfish article. I want you to highlight the important information, or the big ideas, in yellow and highlight the details in green. On a piece of paper, write a summary describing this article and then turn it into me along with the article.

The students will turn in their article and summary. I can see what information they decided was important and what was not. From that, I can correct each individual as needed. Also, I can focus whole group time on the areas in which the students who struggle the most in this subject. I also will have the summary to grade. I will be able to see if the students understand what a summary is and how to write them. I will also use the checklist provided above for grading the summary.


Boyer, Crispin. The Secret Language of Dolphins. http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/AnimalsNature/Dolphin-language

Buckelew, Ashley. Look Who's Summarizing! http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/journeys/buckelewrl.html

Musgrave, Ruth A. (2008). Giant Jellyfish Invasion. http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/AnimalsNature/Giant-jellyfish-invasion

Return to the Realizations index: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/realizations.html