Summaries: Easy as 1,2,3!

Reading to Learn

by Jessica Wilson


Rationale: In order to be good readers we must be able to comprehend the things we read. Summarization and comprehension go hand-in-hand because summarization is a comprehension strategy. Summarization simply means that the reader takes out small details and instead focuses on the main ideas of the reading, thereby creating a summary. Through this lesson students will learn strategies to summarize and practice summarization skills by reading whole text and using the summarization rules, black markers, and highlighters to create their own summaries.



-Poster with summarization rules on it

            1. Get rid of unimportant information.

            2.  Get rid of repeated information.

            3. Substitute umbrella words for list words.

            4. Select a topic.

            5. Make up a topic sentence if there is not one.



-Black marker for each student

-Highlighter for each student

-Poster with "The Secret Language of Dolphins"

-Copy of "What's Wild About African Wild Dogs" 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





1. Say: "Today we are going to work on a comprehension strategy called 'summarization'. Can anyone tell me what summarization means when it comes to reading? Good job! Summarization is when you read a passage or piece of text and take all the small details so that you are left with the main idea of the text. So let's  review some things we have learned about reading and talk about what it means to summarize and some of the rules of summarizing.


2. I will start the lesson by reviewing some of the vocabulary in the article.

Say: "Now today we are going to be reading some articles and some of these articles may have some new words in them. What I want to do is go over some new words and what they mean before we begin."

Go over the following words with the students that will be found in the article they will be reading by themselves, "What's Wild About African Wild Dogs". It might be a good idea to have the students write them down so they may go back and look at them when it actually comes time for them to read it alone: domestic, savannas, gazelles, and wildebeests.


3. Next I will put up the poster with our summarization rules up in front of the students. We will talk about these rules one by one before practicing them in a real paragraph. I will explain to the students that these rules will greatly help them to correctly summarize a reading.


4. I will read the following paragraph from "The Secret Language of Dolphins" to the students. Say: "Here is a paragraph from an article from National Geographic Kids called 'The Secret Language of Dolphins'. To practice summarization I will read this paragraph aloud. Follow along silently while I read. 'In many ways, you are just like the more than 30 species of dolphins that swim in the world's oceans and rivers. Dolphins are mammals, like you are, and must swim to the surface to breathe air. Just as you might, they team up in pods, or groups, to accomplish tasks. And they're smart.' Alright, let's look at this paragraph. Our first rule tells us to get rid of unimportant information so I'm going to take my big black marker and cross out the unimportant information. We are going to cross out the entire first sentence. It's good to know that there are many different species of dolphins but that isn't necessarily something important pertaining to the dolphins language. We are also going to cross out 'like you are' after 'mammals' in the second sentence since we know that humans are in fact mammals. Let's cross out 'just as you might' and 'or groups' in the third sentence because this is just a definition. Next we will get rid of repeated information. Since there is no repeated information in this paragraph we can move on to the next rule which is making an "umbrella" for some of our words. We are going to make an umbrella with the words "and they're smart". We are going to "umbrella" this sentence within the second sentence to where it says "Dolphins are smart mammals". So lets take our highlighter and mark "and they're smart" and "dolphins are mammals". Let's also highlight "swim to the surface to breathe air" in the second sentence and "they team up in pods to accomplish tasks" in the third sentence. We will umbrella those sentences into one as well. Our next rules say to select a topic and make a topic sentence. Our topic is going to be dolphins. For our topic sentence I am going to write "Dolphins are smart mammals that swim to the surface to breathe air and they team up in pods to accomplish tasks.


5. Say: "Now that you see how to summarize I am going to give each of you a copy of another article called "What's Wild About African Wild Dogs".  Did you know that there are wild dogs in Africa with a different number of toes than our pet dogs? This article talks about African wild dogs and why they are in danger. To find out about these awesome creatures, read the article. You may also find out what’s being done to save them. Read it silently to yourself and use the black markers and highlighters to do the same thing we just did together. Once you have read through and made your marks I want you to take some paper and a pencil and rewrite the summarized version.


Assessment: For the assessment portion I will be using the summarization rules checklist. Students will be evaluated on their ability to correctly use the summarization rules and strategies to get rid of unimportant information and make a short summary of what they have read. I will also ask the students questions such as "What are some things you learned about the African wild dog?", "What kinds of things hunt these dogs?", "What is being done to save them?", and "Why did humans used to want to kill these dogs so badly?"




Griffin, Meg. Realizations Spring 2010.  "Long Story Short"


Fox, Catherine Clarke. What's Wild About African Wild Dogs.

White, Don. The Secret Language of Dolphins.

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