Summing It Up!




By: Lyndsey Tenney

Reading to Learn Lesson Design


Rationale: One of the most important parts of reading is being able to efficiently comprehend the text. Without being able to comprehend during reading, how would we be able to understand what is happening in the story? In order to summarize, students will be required to identify the main idea of the story and to note several facts that support their main idea. This lesson is designed to teach students helpful ways to summarize an article. By doing so, the students will be required to: take out information that isn’t as important, reduce the size of the text into a more manageable form, and to make a topic sentence.



Article: New Dolphin Discovered in Australia: Author Unknown- National Geographic Kids

Article: Crabs Clean Up by: Catherine Clarke Fox- National Geographic Kids

Smart Board

Highlighters for each student

Pencil and paper for each student

Assessment checklist



1.  “In order to be the best readers that we can be, we must be able to fully understand the words that we are reading. Today we will be practicing a new strategy as we practice reading and this strategy is called summarizing. To summarize something means to figure out what the main idea of the text is by finding important details that are included. This can be done by noting what the main idea of the text is, removing words or sentences that are not very important, and identifying important facts that help support the main idea.”

 “There are a few important steps that should be followed when summarizing:”

1.)  Take out unimportant or repeated information.

2.)  Highlight or underline important information that you find.

3.)  Reduce the text into fewer words.

4.)  Create a topic sentence.


2. “Now I’m going to pass out a copy of an article and also pull it up on the smart board and we are going to use the four rules that I just listed to summarize this text. This article is called: New Dolphin Discovered in Australia. This article is about a new type of dolphin that has been discovered in Australia. Scientists and researchers have been working to tie together information to determine where this dolphin originates from. Before we being reading lets discuss some new terms that will be in this article that you may not be familiar with.

1.) Originates: Where a person or animal is originally from.

2.) Discovery: a person, place, or thing that has been found.

3.) Researchers: people who study information on a certain person, place, or thing.


Now let’s read to find out all the information they have learned about this dolphin so far! I want everyone to follow along with me as I read this text.” (Read text to students as they follow along)


4. “After reading this do you see any part of this text that is repeated or unimportant?” (Have students raise their hands and take suggestions. Clarify to the class whether their classmates’ suggestions are correct or not and why they did or didn’t work and explain to the students which parts should be marked out.) “Let’s take our pencils and cross out that first sentence in the second paragraph, the third paragraph, and then last paragraph” (Mark out the text with the pen on the smart board along with the students so they are clear which part of the text should be taken out.)


5.  “Now, we are going to search for important information that we see in this article. (Have students raise their hands to give suggestions. The important pieces of information in this text are mainly in the first, second, and fourth paragraph.) “Now that we have noted some sentences or phrases that are rather important, we are going to take our highlighter and highlight those parts.”


-  “It’s now time to reduce our text into fewer words. Pull out a piece of paper and pencil. I’m going to freeze the screen on the smart board as I type into a word document what we have highlighted and we can put those facts into sentence form.”


      6. “Now we are going to create our topic sentence. As mentioned earlier, a topic sentence should sum up the main idea of our text into one sentence. After reading this article, we know that tiny crabs help clean the coral so that it does not get damaged and it can stay alive. Maybe our topic sentence should focus on that main idea. Use your thinking caps to help me come up with a sentence with that information. (Possible sentence: Tiny crabs help keep coral reefs alive by cleaning dirt that builds on them.) Now we can use our topic sentence and the sentences we highlighted to make our summary. On your own paper, write the topic sentence and then our highlighted information in your own words. (Walk around room to observe writing.)


7. “Since you now have a better understanding on how to summarize, I’m going to let you try on your own! I am going to give you an article called New Dolphin Species Discovered in Big City Harbor. This article is about a new species of dolphin that has never been seen before. The dolphin was seen in Australia! Many researchers and scientists are working together to figure out exactly what part of the world this dolphin came from and why this is our first time spotting it. You are going to use the strategies we talked about to help you summarize this article just like we did the other one. Remember, read the article first, cross out information that is not important or repeated, reduce the parts into fewer words, create a topic sentence, and write a summary in your own words.”


Assessment: Give a check if this was evident in the student’s summary:


-Unimportant or repetitive information was removed _____

-The text was reduced into fewer words _____

-Important information was highlighted/ underlined _____

-The topic sentence was based on the main idea of the article _____



-What point was the author making about the topic? (putting together)

-Where were the dolphins found and why do you think they were found there? (writer and me)

-What is different about these dolphins and how are they different from a dolphin you have  seen, heard, or read about before? (writer and me)

-What is the name of the new dolphin and why did they give it this name? (putting together)



National Geographic Kids. Author unknown. "New Dolphin Discovered in Australia". 19 September 2011. Web. 3 April 2012.


National Geographic Kids. Catherine Clarke Fox. "Crabs Clean Up"


Rebecca Tarleton, Super Summarizing.

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