Summing it Up!

By: Lauren Sprouse



Rationale: In order to be successful readers, children must master the skills of comprehending the text that they read. To advance their comprehension skills, students must learn to summarize. This lesson is designed to teach students the skills of summarizing, by teaching simple rules and strategies to follow, such as how to pick out important information and get rid of information that doesn't necessarily matter. Students will learn how to compose their own summarizations.


-Summarizing rules

-Student copies of the article National Geographic Gaint Jellyfish Innovation

- Student copies of the article National Geographic Tigers Cuddle With Apes


-Highlighters (1 per student)

-Lined paper for each student

-Pencils (1 per student)

- Assessment Checklist (1 per student)



1. Say, "We already know that in order to be good readers, we have to be fluent. Another important skill we must have is the ability to comprehend what we read. Who knows what it means to comprehend?" Take student answers. "Good! To comprehend means to understand what you've read. To better understand what you read, you need to be able to summarize. Today, we are going to talk about how to summarize when we read."


2. Say, "When you summarize, you pick out the main ideas of a part of literature. "There are four rules to summarizing: Pick out the most important information, get rid of unnecessary information, categorizing several events into one general term, and write one or two sentences that include only the important information drawn from the passage. We are going to practice our summarization skills while we read our article from National Geographic."


3. Say, "Before we get started, let's talk about some vocabulary. Let’s talk about what the word catastrophe means. A catastrophe is an extremely large-scale disaster, a horrible event. A hurricane that destroys the beach would be a catastrophe. A catastrophe is when a tornado tears up a town. Now finish this sentence: An catastrophe I would never like to happen would be..


4. After going over the rules of summarizing and the vocabulary. Model how to summarize the first paragraph in the article: National Geographic Giant Jellyfish Invasion start by giving a book talk. "Today, we are going to read a passage about these giant jellyfish that are invading the sea. Fisherman are not able to catch the jellyfish because they weigh up to 450 pounds. What are the fisherman going to do? Will they be able to get them out of the sea? We are going to read to find out."


5. Say, "We are going to start by reading the whole passage. Don't mark on your paper yet. I'm going to show you exactly what to do after we read." After we read the article pose the question: "How would I summarize the first paragraph? As I reread the first paragraph aloud, look at the document on the board and read silently to yourselves, and watch as I cross out unimportant information and then underline the important details."



Are aliens attacking the Sea of Japan? Not exactly. But these gigantic blobs are unwelcome visitors from another place. Called Nomura's jellyfish, the wiggly, pinkish giants can weigh up to 450 pounds (204 kilograms)—as heavy as a male lion—and they're swarming by the millions.


Summary: Nomura’s jellyfish are swarming the sea by the millions.


6. Say, "Now let's summarize the 2nd paragraph together. As you're reading, ask yourselves the following questions: what or who is it about? What's the point? Everyone read with me."


The supersize sea creatures—normally found off the coasts of China and North and South Korea—occasionally drift east into the Sea of Japan to feed on tiny organisms called plankton. But now one hundred times the usual number of jellyfish are invading Japanese waters. And local fishermen are feeling as if they are under siege. The fishermen's nets are getting weighted down, or even broken, by hundreds of jellyfish. The jellies crush, slime, and poison valuable fish in the nets, such as the tuna and salmon that the fishermen rely on to make a living. No one knows for sure what's causing this jellyfish traffic jam. It's possible that oceans heated by global warming are creating the perfect jellyfish breeding ground. Another theory is that overfishing has decreased the numbers of some fish, which may allow the jellies to chow down without competition for food. For now, all the fishermen can do is design special nets to try to keep the jellies out. Some of them hope to turn the catastrophe into cash by selling jellyfish snacks. Peanut butter and jellyfish, anyone?


Go over the big ideas and main points, taking suggestions from the students. Possible answers:


Big ideas? Giant jellyfish are invading Japanese waters

How? Possibly by global warming.

Why? Fishermen do not know.


Summary: Giant jellyfish are invading the Japanese waters and starting to eat their fish. The catastrophe is increasing and fisherman are trying to figure out what is going on.

7. Pass out the second article, National Geographic Tigers Cuddle With Apes. Whole Text: Give the students a new article to read and have them summarize this on their own. Say, "Today we will practice our summarizing skills with the article, Tigers Cuddle With Apes, by National Geographic Kids. This article tells about how tigers do not like to cuddle especially with their own prey but this tiger likes to cuddle with this ape. Read the entire article and remember underline facts and details, cross out useless facts, and write a summarizing sentence after each paragraph on your own sheet of paper. Ask yourself: What's it about? What's the point?"

Assessment: After students complete the reading and their summaries I will ask reading comprehension questions and we will discuss them as a class.

-Q: Where was the zoo the Tiger and Ape where at?

-Q: What did the zoo keeper say about the two when he first put them together?

-Q: Did the tiger stay with the ape? Why or why not?

I will also take up students' summarizations and complete the following table for evaluation:


Did the student


Get important information


Mark out the repeated and unneeded information


Summarized to form a few sentences that had a main idea


Resources: (Jennifer Ivey) (Summing It Up!)

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