Summing It Up

                   Laura Ashley Norman



We have established that the ultimate goal of reading is comprehension. In order for a beginning reader to develop a strong sense of comprehension, it is useful to learn and practice summarization skills in order to identify and recall the main ideas in a particular passage. In order for students to express that they have fully comprehended a particular passage, they must be able to 'sum up' what they have read in their own words.


One book mark with summarization tips on it per student:

Summarization tips (written on bookmarks)

1. Pick out important facts from the passage

2. Remove information that is not very useful, or that does not back up the topic sentences

3. Pick out repeated ideas and delete them

4. Pick out a topic sentence (create one if one is not provided)


One copy of National Geographic's article "Drinking Water: From Water or From Tap" by Catherine Fox per student (copies can be found at:

Pencil, highlighter



1.       Who can tell me what the word comprehension means? Very good! To comprehend something means to understand it. At the beginning of the school year, we introduced the class rules, we read them, and we discussed them. After reviewing the rules, everyone signed a sheet that said they understood or comprehended the rules. The main goal of reading is to comprehend, or to understand the text.

2.       Today, we are going to learn some strategies that will help us comprehend text by learning how to effectively summarize! Let's begin by learning some important steps to summarization.


3.       I will have created a transparency of the article and will use the overhead projector to model to students how to summarize.

4.       Follow along with me on your paper as I highlight and cross out on my own. We will practice this one together, and then everyone will pick their own national Geographic article to summarize.

5.       Read the passage along with the students. Use your bookmark to help you remember key tips to summarization. After reading the first paragraph, ask students to read the 4 tips to themselves. "Now are there any important facts? Yes! Now let's highlight them." Highlight the important facts in the first paragraph. "Now are there any facts we can delete? Very good, cross those out with your pencil by drawing a line through them" (all the while, the teacher is doing the same things on the overhead along with the students.) "Are there any repeated ideas, mark those out too? What about a topic sentence? Lets underline it." Point out to students that generally the first sentence of a paragraph is a great topic sentence."

6.       Continue to finish the passage in this manner, paragraph by paragraph with the students.

7.       When the class is done identifying the important ideas, create a short three sentence summary of the passage. Do this on the board and a class.




In order to asses students, allow them to choose an article from National geographic Kids on their own to summarize. Have them print the article, and physically cross out, underline, and highlight the appropriate sentences. After they have done this, have students write a short paragraph summarizing the article in their own words. Students should turn in both article and summary to be evaluated. Evaluate the student's articles that they marked on by checking that they highlighted important information and that they crossed through facts that did not support the main sentences. Check that their summary includes all of the main ideas, and that they understand what information is important from a particular passage.



"Summarization Squids" by Collier Daniel


"Drinking Water: From Water or From Tap" by Catherine Fox

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