Let's SUMMARIZE With Sammy, the Turtle!


Reading To Learn Lesson Design

Megan Bowden


Rationale: After learning to read accurately and fluently, children should soon begin to learn to read in order to learn. The goal of reading for learning is that the child is able to fully read a text and understand what it is that they are reading. This lesson introduces students to a helpful strategy known as summarization, to help them read to learn. Students will learn to delete trivial and redundant information in an article about turtles, which will only leave them the important facts in the end. By learning to summarize a text, students will understand what they are reading better and in turn enjoy reading!



          Class set of text –"Green Sea Turtles" from National Geographic

          Poster with summarization rules written on it

          Assessment checklist for each student (teacher use)

          A colored marker for each child

          Lined Paper for each child


          Overhead Projector



1.     Teacher says: "Who has ever read an article or a book, and told a friend about what you read? Did you read the whole book to them, or just tell them the important parts?" (Students should respond "Important Parts") "Right! You only tell them the important parts. This is called a summary. When you summarize something that you read, you take the text and shorten it to show that you comprehend or understand what you read."

2.     This week we have been talking about Ocean animals and yesterday we talked about turtles. We talked about what turtles live in. They live in shells, but we talked about another name for a shell. Does anyone remember? (carapace) Right! So which of these animals might have a carapace: bird, lobster, or a lizard? Yes, a lobster would have a carapace. We also talked about what turtles usually eat. They eat invertebrates. Can you tell me what an invertebrate is? (Call on a student.) Very good, an invertebrate is an animal that does not have a backbone like a jellyfish. We could say "Turtles love to eat invertebrates". Which of these would NOT be an invertebrate: a crab, a seagull, or a worm? (Call on a student.) Yes, a seagull would not be an invertebrate because it does have a backbone doesn't it? A crab and a worm both do not have back bones; therefore, those two would be considered invertebrates.

3.     Okay, now that we all remember our vocabulary let's talk more about summarization. Everyone take out a marker and one sheet of your lined paper. Turn your paper horizontal and fold it into three equal parts like this. (Demonstrate how to fold the paper into three equal pieces.) Now, let's look at out "Rules of Summarization" poster. Who can read what the first rule of summarizing is for us? (Call on student.) Okay, so the first rule of summarizing is to delete unimportant information or any repeating information. I want you to write this rule at the top of your first column on your paper. (As students write explain, "When you delete or cross out the unimportant information or repeated information it will help you understand the message that the author is trying to tell you.") Let's look at our second rule. The second rule says that it is important to find the important information. So let's write this rule at the top of our second column on our paper. (As students write explain, "When you find something that is important in the book or article that you are reading, if you can, it can be helpful to underline that sentence to help you remember that it is important.") The final rule in summarizing is to make a topic sentence. Write this rule at the top of the third column on your paper. (Explain to students as they write that making a topic sentence can be very difficult because most of the texts that we read do not have topic sentences. These topic sentences combine all the important information from the story or text in a sentence to summarize the paragraph that you have read.)

4.     Pass out copies of the article "Green Sea Turtle" from National Geographic. When you think of a turtle what do you think of? (Students' answers may vary. They are green with a hard shell and a long neck.) Where do you think they live? What do they eat? Let's read to find out more about turtles. Place one copy on the overhead for teacher use.

5.     Teacher says: "Now we are going to practice summarizing with this article called "Green Sea Turtles". Let's look at the first paragraph of the article together.


"The green turtle is a large, weighty sea turtle with a wide, smooth carapace, or shell. It inhabits tropical and subtropical coastal waters around the world and has been observed clambering onto land to sunbathe."


6.     Everyone watch me as I use my "Rules of Summarization" chart to help me summarize this paragraph. (Pull out pre-made copy of the 3 columns on paper.) Let's look at the first sentence: "The green turtle is a large, weighty sea turtle wit ha wide smooth carapace, or shell." Do we think it is important that we know they are weighty animals? I would say that this is not very important to us because we already know that they are large, so I am going to mark an X through this part and write this phrase under the first column on my paper (delete unimportant or redundant information). I do think it is important for us to know that they have a "wide smooth shell" so I am going to write that under my second column for important information. The next sentence says, "It inhabits tropical and subtropical coastal waters around the world and has been observed clambering onto land to sunbathe." I think this important because it tells us where we can find our green sea turtles so I am going to write "tropical and subtropical coastal waters" and "come onto land to sunbathe" under my second column for important information.

7.     Now that we have finished the first paragraph let's try and see if we can come up with a topic sentence. I am going to look at the parts I have in my second column for the important information I wrote down. Let's see, I have that green sea turtles have a wide, smooth shell, and that they live in tropical or subtropical coastal waters and come onto land to sunbathe. I am going to use this information to form my topic sentence for this paragraph. After putting this together I can say that my topic sentence is "Green sea turtles have a wide, hard shell and live in tropical and subtropical coastal waters where they come onto land to sunbathe." Now I have all of my important information in one sentence and this is a summary of the first paragraph I was reading. Does anyone have any questions?

8.     Now, I am going to let you summarize each of the remaining paragraphs. Remember to use your paper that we divided into 3 columns to help you break up the information. You can also look at out summarizing poster as well if you need help. Come up with one topic sentence for each paragraph. When you get finished, I want you to staple your article and your paper with columns and then turn it in.

9.     Comprehension Questions for students:

What are the two types of turtles discussed in this article?

What do green sea turtles eat?

Why are most green sea turtles endangered?

10.                        Assessment: I will review each student's column chart to determine if they could successfully summarize the different paragraphs. I will use the assessment checklist to record each child's grade. Topic sentences may slightly vary, but I will be looking to see if the child included the important information in each.



Assessment Checklist:


Student Name: __________________________________


1.     Did the student fill out the chart on his/her paper?

2.     Did the student come up with 7 topic sentences?

3.     Did the student successfully delete unimportant/redundant information?

4.     Did the student successfully identify important parts?

5.     Did the student use the important information to come up with their topic sentences?




National Geographic. "Green Sea Turtle"



Kizer, Meredith. "WHO'S THAT BIRD… I need a SUMMARY!"



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