Superb Summarizers!

Catherine Gardner

Reading to Learn



Reading is the way a student will learn about a new topic. It is important that students be able to read to learn. Summarizing is an important skill for students to master in order to read to learn new information. Readers need to learn to summarize so that they can successfully find the important details of a text and remember the important information. This lesson is going to teach students the steps they can take in order to master summarizing large passages they read so that they can learn the important information. The teacher will then model how to summarize an article that is read aloud to the class and students will practice summarizing individually with a new article.



·        pencils

·        paper

·        Transparency of "Slow Down for Calvin the Right Whale!" article

·        "Slow Down for Calvin the Right Whale!" articles for students

·        "What's Wild About African Wild Dogs" articles for students

·        rubric for grading student's summaries



1.  Introduce summarizing to the students:

      Say:  "Today we are going to learn how to summarize. Summarizing means finding the main idea and important details of something that you read. This skill is important because it helps us as readers find the most important information about what we are reading. In order to find the most important information to put in a summary, we need to take out any information that isn't important. Today we are going to practice finding the main idea, finding important details that support that idea, and removing any insignificant or unnecessary information."


2.  Review vocabulary with students:

Say:  "We are going to review some vocab before we read these articles.  I am going to review the meanings of some of the words that you will see in the article that you will read independently so that you can understand the article and create a good summary.  The word "domestic" is in the article and it means something that is tame and lives with humans.  For instance, a domestic dog is a dog that is tame and lives in a home with humans.  You will also see the word "sociable in the article, which means something that likes to be around others.  A person who is sociable enjoys being around other people."


3.  Explain the three important rules of summarization to the students:

          Say:  "There are three important rules to summarizing:

-First, you need to pick out all of the important details of the passage you are reading. Decide what the big ideas in the passage are and underline them or write them down.

          -Second, you should find any details that are repetitive or that aren't           important to the big idea of the passage and cross out these details.

-Finally, you should organize the important information and compose a statement that covers the main ideas and includes the important details."


4. Pass out a copy of the article, "Slow Down for Calvin the Right Whale!" to each student.

Say: -"We are going to read this article together as a class and practice the skills we have discussed to come up with a good summary together".


5. Read the article aloud to the class as they follow along with their own copy.


6.  Model how to summarize the article

Say:  -"Now we need to summarize the article. How do we begin? (Allow wait time for students to suggest how to begin summarization) Right, let's pick out important details and mark out unimportant details as we read the article again. To do this, we need to think about what subject seems to be mentioned more than once? As I read the first few sentences, I see that a North Atlantic right whale named Calvin is mentioned repeatedly and is very important to this article. A proposed law to protect the whales is also mentioned repeatedly.  I think that the law seems to be the main idea of this article. My first sentence of the summary will be "An 8-month-old North Atlantic right whale named Calvin was orphaned after her mother was hit by a ship."

-"Picking out these main ideas is very important to figure out at the beginning of the summarizing process. After we do this, we have to decide what the author is trying to say about the topic. Let's look again at the first paragraph and I'll model what I do when I am summarizing. Now I am going to write "A rule was proposed to make ships slow down in areas where right whales swim". That is a key point in what the author's message is about the whales and why this rule was proposed."


7.  Continue to go through the steps of summarizing this article about Calvin and the proposed law. I will think aloud so that students can hear how I decide what information about the article is important in and what is unnecessary information that can be marked out. Mark out useless information, such as information that is repetitive in the article or that describes a topic, and underline important information.


8. Pass out "What's Wild About African Wild Dogs" article. Students will read the article and practice the steps of summarizing. They will be given ample time to read the article and write a good summary.



Students will be assessed at the end of the lesson on their summary that they did individually. I will use the checklist below to score each summary and gauge what areas each student needs practice in for future lessons on summarizing and picking out main ideas.



In his/her summary, did the student….



Delete unimportant/insignificant/repetitive information?



Select key information in the article?



Write a topic sentence that "summarizes the summary"?



Choose the correct main topic for the specific article?



Write 3-5 good, concise sentences?





"Slow Down for Calvin the Right Whale!" article from National Geographic Kids


"What's Wild About African Wild Dogs" article from National Geographic Kids


Stop, It's Summarizing Time by Katie Wilcox


Win the Prize and Summarize by Towns Carlson


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