Sum It Up!!!!


Sarah Frances Liles

Rationale: In this lesson, the learning goal is for the struggling reader to work on either developing and/or strengthening their reading comprehension skills. This lesson is geared for an upper elementary-aged student. In grades three through five, students should be acquiring and working on their reading comprehension skills. There is a plethora of comprehension questions on standardized tests, and it is also beneficial to maturing readers, because comprehension strategies help students to understand what they are reading, which makes reading a more pleasurable experience. Oftentimes, teachers misinterpret low test scores as a direct reflection of a student’s intelligence; however, the students are often very bright, but lacking comprehension skills that enable them to fully understand and process information. Students can make great academic strides when practicing the summarization technique. This lesson will introduce the concept of summarization, providing opportunities for practice and learning when the technique is applicable.

Materials:  Expository text on Koalas titled Koala Profile, Poster listing Van Djik and Kintsch’s summarization rules-i.e. (delete trivial information and redundant information, create super ordinate terms for a list of items, select topic sentences for whole paragraphs and invent one if there isn’t already one present), paper, pencil, and comprehension questions sheet *(attached), web diagram sheet *(attached)


1. Instructor will introduce the lesson by telling the student that we are going to be working strategies that help readers to learn and retain information. “Today we are going to learn about a strategy called summarization. When we are reading to learn, or reading in hopes to gain information about a topic, we must take mental notes and summarize as we go along. This helps when you are answering comprehension questions, factual questions from the story you read. It is a great and helpful technique for readers of all ages!”

2. Introduce the poster with the summarization techniques presented by Van Djik and Kintsch. Go over each one thoroughly and answer any questions the student may have. (I have combined some of the similar rules to make it less overwhelming and lengthy.)

a. Delete trivial and redundant information.

“This means that sometimes there is information in a paragraph that isn’t really necessary for one to understand. In other words, we could still understand the topic without the addition of these trivial, or unimportant, sentences. They don’t really offer information directly pertinent, or important, to our topic.

 b. Substitute super ordinate terms for a list of items.

“For example, if a particular paragraph is talking about baseball, soccer, and football, the super ordinate term for this series of terms would be SPORTS. It is helpful to narrow down a long series of terms by creating a word that encompasses, or includes all of them.


c. Select or invent a topic sentence that covers all of the information in a text, or a whole paragraph.

“For you, as the reader of an article, it is helpful to think of one sentence, also called a topic sentence that sums up the entire paragraph. This way, when you are rereading the article to learn the information, you can view these single sentences that give you a paragraph worth’s information.”


Tell the student how important it is to commit these ‘rules’ to memory.

“It will be very helpful to you, if you learn these rules and commit them to memory. This way, you will be able to use them to help you when reading for information. People of all ages summarize information, and the ability to summarize effectively will help you throughout your whole life.”

4. Explain to the student when it is appropriate to use summarization as a reading comprehension strategy.

“Effective comprehension requires an accurate recall of information. Summarization is a strategy that helps us to correctly recall the most important facts from something we read. It is often most helpful to use summarization when reading expository texts. Expository texts are passages that are written for the sole purpose of the reader gaining information. They are informative and educational. Using the summarization rules on our poster, you can effectively summarize the important information and the knowledge that the author wants you to gain from his/her writing.”

5. Introduce the Koala Profile article written by National Geographic. Before the student reads, make sure to remind him/her to keep the summarization rules in mind while reading.

“I have an informative, expository article on Koalas. I would like for you to read it carefully. While you are reading, be sure to keep in mind the summarization rules on our poster. Would you like to review them again? ((briefly go over the rules again)).”

6. After the student has completed the article, give him/ her the web diagram sheet. This is a helpful way for the student to organize information that is important while ‘deleting’ the trivial information. The teacher may need to scaffold the student as he/she completes the diagram.

“Now you are going to complete this web diagram on the article that you just read. This is a great and helpful way for readers to sort through information and discover what is truly important and/or likely to be a comprehension question. While you are deciphering what is important, you can also weed through unnecessary facts that might not be as important.”

7. Give the student the web diagram sheet and scaffold him/her while completing it, so that they get an accurate experience with separating important and unimportant information.

Possible guiding questions: “What is this article about?” “What do koalas eat?” “How do their mother’s take care of them?” –This is all factual information that is important to be recalled.

8. After the web diagram has been completed, help the student create topic sentences for each paragraph in the article. For example, you could say the following to summarize the first paragraph: “Koalas are pouched animals that once they are born, they cling onto their mothers for the first year of their life.”

9. Finally, have the student review his/her completed web and topic sentences.

“Take just a minute to look over the information that you have collected and summarized about this article. Keep it in mind as I verbally ask you some comprehension questions.”

10. Present the questions one by one, and have the student answer them.

“I am going to ask you a series of questions regarding the information that you just read and wrote about. Please listen carefully, and pay attention.”

11. Conclude the lesson. “This concludes the lesson. I hope that you have learned more about summarization, and when to use the strategy. It is very helpful to summarize informational passages, because it helps you to retain, and remember the information when asked to recall it. People of all ages summarize, and it is very helpful to them. I hope that you will use the summarization technique to help you!”


National Geographic Website article on Koalas titled Koala Profile.


     This is a marvelous website that offers a variety of templates that are printable and which can be easily customized.


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