What’s the Point?

Reading to Learn

Cambre Prater


Rational: Comprehension is very important when it comes to successful reading.  When students know how to properly summarize a passage they are able to comprehend the meaning of it better. They should practice summarization to build their reading comprehension skills.  Children should be able to pick out the important points in passages every time they read. They need to be taught how to ignore the trivial points and focus on the bigger picture. With practice and proper instruction, children will become better readers.



- Highlighters and pencils

- Article, “The Changing Face of Mars” by Fran Downey in the October 2007 issue of National Geographic


-Article, “Wild Cats” by Dana Jensen in the March 2008 issue of National Geographic


-Dry Erase board and markers

-  Summarizing poster:

            1.      Delete anything that you know is not important to the story.

            2.      pick out items and events that you know are important

3.     compose a statement that covers everything the writer says about the    topic that you read about

-Assessment checklist:

                    YES                NO

            - Deletes trivia and redundancies

            - Locates important items and events

            - Compose a statement that covers everything the

                writer says about the topic


Write on the Board:

While reading take your time!

After reading think about what you read.


  1. I will begin the lesson by explaining to the students how important it is that they understand what they are reading. I will explain, “We have already discussed how important fluency is, but it is equally, if not more important to understand what it is you are reading!  We will review fluency strategies by discussing them as a class and writing them on the board.  Then we will do a quick practice with fluency by getting in groups of two and practicing reading familiar passages.  When you understand what you read, we say you comprehended the material.  That means you understand the main point of the passage you read.  We are going to learn how to pick out the important parts of a passage, which is called summarizing. 
  2. “Does anyone know what a summary is?”  I will let the students explain what they think it is.  After listening to a few answers I will explain that it is a brief description of what you have previously read.
  3. Next I will refer to the summarizing poster and explain that each step is very important.  “After you read a passage look at these steps and follow them closely.  First you take out any details that seem unimportant or do not relate to the rest of the story well.  Your second summary step is to pick out all the things in the story you know are important! Finally, you want to write down a sentence or two that covers everything important the writer was trying to say about the topic. These three steps are very important to keep in mind when reading and summarizing.
  4. Now I am going to model summarization using the three steps on the poster.  I will get the class to pull out an article that we have previously read titled, “The Changing Face of Mars.” I will start out by saying, “Okay everyone, please get out you articles “The Changing Face of Mars” that we read yesterday.  I am going to model how to summarize using the three steps that we just discussed. Make sure you pay attention to what is important in the article and what can be looked over.”  As we go through the article I will explain why certain points are important and why other points can be looked over.  I will go over the three steps and write all of the classes thoughts on the dry erase board.” 
  5. “Now that you have seen me summarize, you are going to practice summarizing. I am going to pass out an article about wild cats for everyone to read!” I will pass out the article “Wild Cats” for the students to practice with.  I will then introduce the article and let the students get started.
  6. I will let the students read the article silently first and while they read, they will highlight sentences that they think are important.  After they have read the article, we will start the summary together.  I will ask them what they found in the first paragraph that they thought was important.  We will also go through the first paragraph and mark through sentences that we think are unimportant.  After we do that as a class I will tell them to go through the rest of the article and highlight and mark out information like we did in the first paragraph. 
  7. When the students finish reading and marking on the article, I will tell them to break into groups of three to summarize the article based on what they highlighted.  Each group should follow the three steps on the poster when wrting their summary.
  8. For their assessment, I will take up the group’s summaries. I will assess each summary based on the summary checklist.




“The Changing Face of Mars” by Fran Downey in the October 2007 issue of National Geographic


“Wild Cats” by Dana Jensen in the March 2008 issue of National Geographic


Amy White, “Fly High and Summarize”. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/whiterl.html


Kimberly Barton, “Star Summarizers”. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/bartonrl.html

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