Steps To Summarizing Success
Reading to Learn
Heather Langley

Comprehension is the goal for reading. Considering this, it is essential for readers to learn the skills to be able to comprehend text effectively.  One method for teaching comprehension is through summarization. In this lesson, students will learn how to successfully summarize a story. Students will observe an effective modeling of summarizing a story and then apply the knowledge observed.

Chart paper with the first 5 sentences from Baby Boom! Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species written on it.
Chart paper with ‘Steps to Summarizing Success’ written on it.
Student copies of Baby Boom! Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species (1 per student)
Highlighters (1 per student)
Copies of ‘Successful Summary’ worksheet (1 per student)
The worksheet should contain 3 columns. The following is an example of the worksheet:
Deleted Information                  Main Ideas                   Summary Sentence

Teaching Procedure:
1. Introduce the lesson to the students. “Have ever read something and once finished had no idea what it was saying? Well today, we are going to try to solve this problem by learning a new strategy that will us better comprehend the text we read. The comprehension strategy we are going to learn is called summarizing. Can anyone tell me what it means to summarize?” Allow time for students to respond. “Summarizing means to take the important information from the text and make into a shortened version. Its takes lots of practice in order to be able identify these important facts and create a summary from them. I am going to model how to use this strategy, so pay close attention.

2. Give a book talk on the article the students will be reading. “We are going to read the article Baby Boom! Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species from National Geographic for Kids. Panda bears are an endangered species meaning that they aren’t many of them left in the world and are in danger of all dying off. Today, scientist, zoo workers, and other groups of people are working hard to try to save these animals and keep them from becoming extinct. Are they really helping or are they just making things worse? We will have to read the article to find out.” Pass a copy of the article to each student.

3. “I have written the first five sentences from the article on chart paper. As I read them aloud I want you follow along by silently reading them with me. We are then going to pick out the important information.” Read the following five sentences aloud:
If Su Lin the giant panda had thrown herself a one-year-old birthday party, she’d have had a lot of panda friends to play with. That’s because she is one of 19 captive pandas to turn a year old in 2006. Su Lin lives in the San Diego Zoo in California. At birth she was about the size and weight of a stick of butter. She now weighs 75 pounds (34 kilograms).

4. Model for the students how to effectively summarize a passage. “I am now going to model for you how to summarize text. You want to start by taking out, or crossing out, any unnecessary information. Okay, so I don’t think that the whole first sentence is anything we really need to know so we can mark that out.” Cross out the first sentence. We can also cross out that she lives in the San Diego Zoo in California. “The second step is to find the important information the author has given us. I believe it is important to know that 20 captive pandas are one year old, because it provides hope that they will survive. It is also important to note that Pandas are very small at birth, but at one weigh around 75 pounds, because it gives the reader an idea about the size of pandas. The final step is to put all the information together in a shortened version. There are 19 one year old captive pandas and even though they were very small at birth they now weigh around 75 pounds.” Write the summary on the chart paper below the original passage.

5.  “Before you try summarizing on your own let’s do a quick review of the three steps you need in order to summarize successfully. Who can tell me the first step?” Allow time for student to answer. Once the answer is provided write it on a piece of chart part with the heading “Steps to Summarizing Success.”
1. Delete the unnecessary information.
”That’s right, what step comes next?” Write the given answer on chart paper.
2. Organize items and events.
”And finally, what is the last step?” Write the third step on the chart paper.
3. Create a sentence that covers the important information the author says about the topic.  

6. “Now you all are going to try summarizing on your own. You will need to read the rest of the article silently. Reading silently will allow you to concentrate on finding the important details. I am going to pass out highlighters for you to use to highlight the important information as you read.” Pass out a highlighter for each student. “Don’t forget to look at the chart we made on “Steps to Summarizing Success” to remind you of the three steps. Once you have finished reading the article you can begin working on the ‘Successful Summary’ worksheet. The deleted item should go on the first column, the important information on the second, and your summary sentences in the third.” Hand out worksheets to the students.   

Assess the student’s ability to summarize by looking over their completed ‘Successful Summary’ worksheet. If a student did not complete the worksheet sufficiently then ask them oral comprehension questions.
Why are the pandas an endangered species?
Is their hope for the future of pandas?

Gordon, David George. Baby Boom! Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species. National Geographic for Kids. 1996-2008.

Stephan, Erin. Super, Successful Summarizers.

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