Summing It All Up!

Reading to Learn
Jennifer Reinhart 

Rationale Reading comprehension is the goal of reading.  Comprehension is hard for many emerging and beginning readers because they have to focus harder on the words then the overall meaning of a text.  As students become more proficient at reading they learn to apply new strategies to better understand what they are reading.  A main component of reading comprehension is summarization.  It is important for students to learn how to pick out the most important details from a passage, and be able to put them in their own words. 


Chart paper




Enough copies for students of Gorilla Rescued by Scott Elder

Enough copies for students of the article Amazing Bats of Bracken Cave by Catherine Clarke Fox


1. Today we will be learning how to find the important parts of what we read.  Does anyone know what this is called? (summarizing).  Why do you think summarizing is important? (Summarizing helps us figure out what is important in what we are reading)  Learning how to summarize can be difficult at first so I will model for you to start.  Then we will work in groups to practice summarizing a different passage.

2. When we summarize we follow certain steps.  The first step is to pick out important details.  The second step is to get rid of all the details that are repeated or unimportant.  The third step is to pick out our keywords.  The last step is to find a topic sentence that we will base all of our information on.   (As I go over each step I will write it on the chart paper. )  When we are practicing our summarizing we can look back at our poster to make sure we are following all the steps. 

3. Lets look at the article  Gorilla Rescued by Scott Elder.  I am going to read it aloud while you guys follow along and read silently. 

4. Ok lets look at our summarizing rules and see what our first step is.  The first step is to pick out the main points.  I got that the main points are: (write on the chart paper)

-Poachers kidnap baby gorillas to get money

-Poachers are illegal hunters

-Baby Gorillas require constant attention from their mothers other wise they give up the will to live. 

-Gorillas are becoming extinct because of hunters killing them for food and selling them. 

-After constant care for 6 months Dunia is finally well again.

Did anyone else get any other facts from this article?  (If so, write on paper) Lets look at our next step; Delete anything that is repeated or unimportant. (Write mine on the paper)

-The poacher was set-up with a sting operation.

-Poachers tried to sell the gorilla as a pet

-Vets were worried about the gorillas health

-The shelter where Dunia was taken is primarily responsible for wild mountain gorillas.

Did anyone get anything else? (Write on the paper if they did) Good now what are we going to do next?  (let students answer) Right we are going to look for keywords.  Hand out highlighters for them to highlight what they think are keywords. (List my keywords on the paper)

-poacher, gorilla, touch, survive, hunters, primates, extinction,

Did anyone else find any other keywords? (If so write on the paper)  Ok our last step is to come up with a topic sentence.  Here is what I got (write on the chart paper)

-When baby gorillas have been separated from their families they must have constant touch in order to survive.

Did anyone else come up with a different one.  If they did, why did they choose this?

5. I will give students a second article Amazing Bats of Bracken Cave by Catherine Clarke Fox.  They will be asked to read the article once silently by themselves.  After they read the article students will be put in pairs to work together to summarize the article together. They will cross out unimportant facts on each of their articles then list keywords.  Finally they will come up with a topic sentence. 

6. After all the groups are finished we will meet together.  As a group we will talk about each of the steps and write their answers up on the chart paper.  We will discuss why we think each fact was important or unimportant.

7. To assess I will collect their papers to see what they listed for each step


Fox, Catherine Clarke. Amazing Bats of Bracken Cave.

Elder, Scott. Gorilla Rescue.

Ward, Maribeth. Sum Sum Summarize.

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