The Heart of Summarizing

      Reading to Learn Design

Lauren Singer


Rationale: The goal of reading is comprehension.  In order for students to develop good comprehension, they must have comprehension strategies.  Summarization is one important life-long skill for reading. It simply means that you are taking out all of the small details and focusing on the main ideas of the passage.  This lesson is designed to help students develop their summarization skills. In this lesson we will be working on helping children derive meaning and understanding from the texts they read.  Students will be able comprehend the meaning within the text and organize it in an informative way.  They will do this by learning how to identify the important ideas and key details needed while eliminating the unnecessary details.  After understanding and highlighting which important parts throughout the paragraph are needed to comprehend the reading, students can then learn how to organize them in a way (into their own sentences) that will shorten the reading but allow for easier comprehension in the end.




-          Poster with Summarization Rules:

o   Get rid of unimportant information.

o   Get rid of repeated information

o   Substitute umbrella words for list words.

o   Select a topic

o   Make up a topic sentence if there is not one

-          Articles- Bottlenose Dolphin, African Elephant

-          Sum it up worksheet

-          Pencil for each student




1. I will introduce the lesson by telling the students that we are going to learn about the heart of summarizing.  "Today we are going to be learning about a really helpful strategy to use while reading, called summarization.  Can anyone tell me what summarization is?  Good job!  Summarization means to take all of the important ideas out of the passage to get the main idea. 


2. Now it is time to review some of our vocabulary words. "Lets go over a few more things before we get started. I want to go over some vocabulary words." Write the following words on the whiteboard:  Grasping, Elongating, predator, emerge. "Let’s look at the words "emerge". Emerge means to come into view. The tadpoles emerge out of the water and become bullfrogs. Finish this sentence please:  Tadpoles ______ out of the ________. To emerge means to ________, and the tadpoles turn into ___________. Continue using these same steps with the rest of the vocabulary list.



3. After we review the vocabulary I will display the poster with the summarization rules on it.  I will then read and explain the rules to the students.  "These are the rules that we are going to use to summarize passages that we read.  They will help you to better understand the text. The first rule is to get rid of unimportant information. This means all the "common sense" information that we probably already know. Second is to get rid of repeated information. If you see a fact two or more times, we need to just go ahead and eliminate it because we already know that. Third is to group any list of words into a big word. For instance, we would put this list (dog, cat, bird, pig) under animals, instead of listing all of those again.  The fourth rule is to select a topic. This is so easy. It means you pick what the article is about. Our article is going to be African Elephants. It is the overall theme of the passage. Finally, we need to make that topic into a sentence to start our paragraph off right. We would say, "This article is about African Elephants." Does anyone have any questions about the summarization rules?"



4. Next I will model how to use the summarization rules.  Direct the students' attention to the poster with the "African Elephants" paragraph on it.  "I am going to show you how to use these summarization rules as you read.  I am going to read this paragraph and I want you to follow along with me silently.  Then we will write a topic sentence and summary of this article together."




5. Read the paragraph aloud: "When you think elephant, you probably think trunk. An adult African elephant's trunk is about seven feet (two meters) long! It's actually an elongated nose and upper lip. Like most noses, trunks are for smelling. But they're also for touching and grasping." After reading the passage aloud, model how to go through the summarization checklist.  "Okay, now that we have read the passage, let's summarize it together using our summarization checklist.  The first rule says to get rid of all of the unimportant information.  To get rid of the unimportant information, we are going to cross it out on the board.  First I am going to mark out " like most noses, trunks are for smelling" because this part is pretty much common sense. We know that noses are used to smell." The next step is to delete any repeated information.  There is no repeated information in this passage, so we can go on to the next step, which is to substitute umbrella words for list words. This passage does not list any words that could be grouped and substituted with an umbrella word. Now we need to decide on the subject of this passage, which are African Elephants.  Finally we need to write a topic sentence.  The topic sentence that I am going to write for this passage is "African Elephants have a unique feature that they use to smell, grasp and touch things. It is called their trunk." This is how we use the summarization rules to get the important facts from the passage.




6. Now that you have seen how to use the summarization rules, I want you to practice doing one on your own.  I will pass out the sum it up sheet and ask the students to get out a pencil. I am going to give you an article called, "Bottlenose Dolphins". I want you to read it silently to yourself and use the tools that I have given you (crossing out unimportant information) as well as the summarization rules to summarize the passage. When the students have received their sheet, I will ask them to work on it individually and then with a partner, and I will ask them to follow the directions on the sheet.            



7. For the assessment portion of this lesson, I will review the sum it up sheets that were given to the students. Students will be evaluated on their ability to delete trivial information as well as the repeated information, find the important information, and create one topic sentence.


Sum it up Worksheet:



8. Finally I will ask for volunteers to share their summaries and generate a class discussion to be sure that all of the students have comprehended what they have read.





Kids National Geographic Website: Animals and Pets


Strategies for Reading Comprehension:




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