The Shorter The Better!

Samantha McClendon

Rationale: Comprehension is the goal of reading. As teachers we strive to help children become better readers and writers. We must also teach them to comprehend what they read. In this lesson, students will learn how to summarize. Summarizing benefits comprehension because it eliminates all unwanted information and highlights the most beneficial information. In order to teach students to summarize, they need to practice as a class first.


  1. Introduce the lesson to the students by describing what we will be doing today. We will be making a summary of an article. To make a summary we must first identify the main ideas that are important to the author of a text. How do we know that an idea is important to an author? We look for repeated references the author included in his or her article. Then we make connections among the main ideas within the article. Why are we learning how to summarize today? Because if you can learn to apply the strategies we use today to other content areas it will help increase your comprehension, or what you remember, about a book, article, etc. We will use a checklist to help us determine if we found the author's main ideas and that the summary makes sense.
  2. Distribute to the students a copy of the article and a copy of things to remember when writing a summary.
  3. I will read the first paragraph and model for the students how to summarize. I will read the first paragraph out loud as you follow along. Now I'm going to reread the first paragraph again silently. Please read it again silently as well. I'm going to write my key points on the board. What stood out in my mind is that Earth Day developed from an idea the author had that the President should go on a national conservation tour of the United States. So that is one key point. The author had this idea in 1962 while President Kennedy was in office. One thing I notice that I am missing as I glance back through is that I did not state why the author felt there should be a national conservation tour. The author felt that our environment was simply overlooked by politics. Now let me write these on the board in short key points:
            -The author Gaylord Nelson decided in 1962 that our environment needed more attention.
            -He got President Kennedy to go on a national conservation tour. 
            -This national conservation tour evidentially started Earth Day.
  1. Read over my notes. Do you get the main ideas of the first paragraph from these points? Do you see how much it can help you remember information because it is put into a simpler form than the article?
  2. Please read and reread the entire article and keep the list of "The key points in making a summary" close-by. Once you have finished your key points write them into a paragraph form to make a summary.
  3. Give students about fifteen to twenty minutes, depending, to work on the article and their summaries. Let them exchange papers with their neighbor and get feedback from them. 
  4. To assess the students, let them assess themselves. Pass out to each student a copy of "The Self-Assessment Rubric." Have them fill them out and turn it in with their summaries.


Roberts, Becky. "Sum It All Up!"; "How the First Earth Day Came About," By Senator Gaylord Nelson,

"The Self-Assessment Rubric"

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