Sum, Sum, Sum it up!




Reading to Learn

Emily Colburn


This lesson teaches children about reading a text and summarizing it. In this lesson students will read a text and summarize it using summarizing skills. The goal is for students to recognize the important information in the text and write a short summary about the text. Students will highlight important information throughout the text and use these highlights to write a summary.


Materials: power point with summarization steps, highlighters, black marker, 2 articles for each student, pencils, paper

1. Today we are going to learn how to read a text and summarize it. What do you think summarizing means? It means to tell the main points that are talked about in a story in a few sentences. We want to learn to summarize because it makes us better readers. If we can summarize we can understand and remember what we read. Let me show you the steps of summarization.

2. We are going to learn a new word that will appear in the article:

1. Orangutans are a large ape with reddish hair, long arms, and hooked hands and feet. Orangutans don’t look like elephants.

2. Orangutans look like monkeys.

3. Orangutans can live with tigers.

4. Orangutans are adaptive animals.

3. Pull up power point with steps, find out the main topic, find important information, delete information that isn’t important, and take out repeated information. Now let’s try as a class.

4 . Pass out article Tigers Cuddle with Apes. I want everyone to read through this article. Once everyone has read through we will discuss as a class. We need to find the topic of this story; it usually tells you the topic or what the story is about in the first sentence. Circle the topic with your pencil. Now we need to take our highlighters and highlight any facts that are important. Then we need to take our black marker and cross through details that don’t really matter or that are repeated. We want to make a general term that tells what the article is about.

5. Now that we know the topic and have the important things highlighted we can begin summarizing. Remember a summary is only a few sentences and doesn’t give many details.

6. First in the summary we need to know the topic of the story. With the person next to you create a topic sentence. This is a sentence telling what the story it about. For example if I was reading about panda bears I might say, this article is about panda bears and how they live. After you have a topic sentence, create 2 more sentences about the story that would sum up what the story is about.

7. Once everyone has finished have the partners share with the class. Discuss everyone’s summaries, have the class help each other if need be.  Now you try, on your own, with this new article called The Secret Language of Dolphins. Remember to use the same steps we did! 

8. Assessment: Give each student the article The Secret Language of Dolphins. Have students write their own summary. I will leave the power point up for them to reference. I will assess their summaries based on the chart/rubric below.

When summarizing, did the student…



Delete unimportant information?

Delete repeated information?

Organize items with a big idea?

Select a topic?

Write an inclusive, simple topic sentence to summarize the passage?











I will ask students a few comprehension questions. What does the author want us to know? How do dolphins communicate? How is their communication different from humans communication?



"Summing it up" by Jennifer Ivey

Tiger Cuddles with Apes


Assessment: The Secret Language of Dolphins

Return to the Epiphanies Index