Super Summarizers

Reading to Learn

Ava Sewell

Rationale:  The ultimate goal of reading is comprehension.  In order for students to develop good comprehension, they must have comprehension strategies.  Summarization is one important comprehension strategy for life long readers. This lesson is designed to help students develop their summarization skills by obtaining meaning and understanding from the texts they read.  Students will learn how to identify the important ideas and key details needed while eliminating the unnecessary details.  Students can then organize the main ideas of the text in a way that allows for easier comprehension.



Smart board

Sentence on Smart board: ‘The big brown bear growled at him.’

Summarization rules on Smart board

            Get rid of unimportant information.

            Get rid of repeated information.

Substitute umbrella words for list words.

           . Select a topic.

Make or find a topic sentence

Excerpt from ‘Living With Lions’ by Joe Levit on Smart board

Copy of Article ‘Living With Lions’ by Joe Levit for each student

Pencils and paper for each student

Highlighter for each student

Summarization checklist:


Did the Student . . .



Get rid of unimportant information



Get rid of repeated information



Substitute umbrella words for list words



Select a topic



Make up a topic sentence if there was not one





I will introduce the lesson by having the students tell me some things that it takes to be a good reader. Next I will say, ‘Today we are going to learn another strategy to help us become good readers. It is called summarization. Does anyone know what that means?’ ‘Summarization is taking the important information out of the text so that we can better understand what the text is telling us.’


I will begin the lesson by reviewing the strategy of crosschecking.  ‘Class, do you guys remember how to figure out a word that you don't know when you are reading?  We learned how to crosscheck and figure out the word that would make sense in the sentence. Look at the smart board with the sentence, ‘The big brown bear growled at him.’ Now read the sentence incorrectly to the class-  ‘The big brown bear growled at him.’  That sentence didn't make sense.  Let me look back at it and see if I can figure it out.  Oh, it says, ‘The big brown bear growled at him! See how I used crosschecking to figure out that the sentence said growled and not growed? It is always important to remember to use crosschecking when you come to a word that is hard to figure out.’ Now we need to review some important vocabulary words. ‘I want to review some vocabulary with you all.’ Write the following words on the smart board: ecosystem, society, and herders. Have the students tell you the definitions and write them on the board. ‘ Good, and ecosystem is an environment and its living things.’ Continue with all vocabulary words.


After we review the vocabulary I will display the summarization rules on the smart board.  I will then read and explain the rules to the students.  ‘These are the rules that we are going to use to summarize passages that we read.  They will help you to better understand the text. The first rule is to get rid of unimportant information. This means all the ‘common sense’ information that we probably already know. Second is to get rid of repeated information. If you see a fact two or more times, we need to just go ahead and take it out because we already know that. Third is to group any list of words into a big word. For instance, we would put this list (dog, cat, bird, pig) under animals, instead of listing all of those again.  The fourth rule is to select a topic, which mean you pick what the article is about. Our article is going to be ‘Living with Lions.’ Our topic will probably be Lions.     


Next I will model how to use the summarization rules.  ‘I am going to show you how to use these summarization rules as you read.  I am going to read this passage and I want you to follow along with me silently on your copy.  Then we will write a topic sentence and summary of this passage together.’ Read the passage out of ‘Living with Lions.’  Now that we have read the passage, lets go back and summarize. Model how to summarize: Now we should see if we can make this shorter so that we can understand al the important information. Let’s use our first rule 1. Get rid of unimportant information. We are going to cross it out with our pencils. (Mark through on smart board and the kids can use their pencils and their copy) We can take out the sentence ‘Today, lions are in real trouble. In the last few decades, their numbers have dropped by 80 percent.’ and ‘Experts say that there may be only 20,000 lions left in the wild.’ because we don’t need to know exact numbers or need filler sentences.  Next we should 2. Get rid of repeated information. We can get rid of the sentence ‘Lions keep balance in their ecosystem’ because it tells us the same thing in the two sentences before, and the sentence after.  Next we should 3. Substitute umbrella words for list words. We can mark through the first four sentences and replace them with a shorter sentence of ‘ Lions are being killed by many different things.’  We can also mark out all the places that lions once roamed and roam now, and replace it with they once lived on three continents, and now it is down to one. Now we have two rules left. 4. Select a topic and 5. Make a topic sentence. We know the topic is lions, because that is what the whole passage is about. A topic sentence can be Lions are becoming extinct, because that tells us in a complete sentence what we are about to read about through the whole passage.  






Passage used in the above procedure:


Losing Lions

Herders kill lions to protect their livestock. Hunters kill them as trophies. Even diseases from domestic animals kill them. All of this is causing lions to die out, or become extinct. That may seem surprising. After all, more than a million lions once roamed Earth. They wandered across large areas of Africa. They also lived in much of Asia and parts of Europe. Today, lions are in real trouble. In the last few decades, their numbers have dropped by 80 percent. Now lions live only in some parts of Africa and one part of India. Experts say that there may be only 20,000 lions left in the wild. Lions are a top predator in Africa. This means that no other animal hunts them. Lions help keep a balance in their ecosystem. If they disappear, the entire ecosystem could change.

 Now that you have seen how to use the summarization rules, I want you to practice doing one with a partner.  You are going to go through the whole article ‘Living with Lions’ and summarize it so that you can share what you’ve learned with the class. The article is all about how the lions are becoming endangered. When the students have summarized, ask them the following questions to check for comprehension:

1. If Lions disappear, what could happen?

2. Why are people killing lions?

3. What do you think we should do to make sure lions do not become endangered?


For the assessment portion of this lesson, I will use the same summarization rules checklist that is included in the materials section of this lesson plan.  I will ask students to share their summaries and generate a class discussion to be sure that all of the students have comprehended what they have read.



National Geographic Explorer Article ‘Living with Lions’ by Joe Levit

DeDe Caroll: ‘To Make a LONG story SHORT’

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