1...2...3...Let's Summarize!
by Miranda Lewis
to Learn


... ......


Summarization is an essential strategy for reading comprehension. Summarization is the ability to find the main idea of a story or a passage. When you write a summary, you want to pick out the most important facts. The purpose of this lesson is to teach students how to summarize by picking out the most important ideas. The learning goal for this lesson is for students to be able to apply a summarization strategy with three simple steps.


- Time for Kids article: Tombs Discovered in Egypt by Jonathon Rosenbloom (class set)

- Time for Kids article: A Frozen Wonder by Cameron Keady (class set)

- Time for Kids article: It's a Great Pumpkin by Stephanie Kraus (one copy)

- Time for Kids article: To the Moon! By Johnathon Rosenbloom (a set for small groups)

- Notebook paper

- Highlighters (one per student)

- White board

- Expo marker


1. “Today, we are going to take a whole lot of information and 'squeeze it down' into just a little bit of information. This is going to help us get better at picking out the important parts of all the things that we read. Our strategy for 'squeezing all of those words down' is called summarizing. Let's think of ways that summarizing can help us in our classroom!” (studying for a test, telling others about a story, reading something faster)

2. “The best part about learning to summarize is that it is easy peasy! There are only 3 steps that we need to know when we are summarizing.” Have sample article, 'It's a Great Pumpkin” projected onto the board. Read article to the class. As you explain steps to students, have two columns for information: Important Ideas; Not so Important Ideas.

Step 1: Only keep the most important ideas.

- “So, what are some of the most important ideas that we read in this article? I thought that it was really important that the heaviest pumpkin ever has been grown. What are some things that stood out to you?” (heaviest pumpkin, new world record, the pumpkin weighed 1 ton, Ron Wallace, weighed 2,009 pounds)

Step 2: Get rid of the ideas that aren't very important.
- As students call out important ideas from above, have the class discuss their importance.
Some ideas will fall into the 'Not so Important Ideas' column.

Step 3: Write it in your own words.

- “If I was going to write down a sentence that told us all about what we just read in 'It's
Great Pumpkin,' what column would I use to get my information? (Important Ideas
column) All right, I am going to start my sentence off with who the article was about: Ron
Ron Wallace. Now, what did Ron Wallace do? Ron Wallace created a new world record.
How did he do this? Ron Wallace created a new world record by growing the heaviest
pumpkin. Now, we need to know big the heaviest pumpkin was. Ron Wallace created a
new world record by growing the heaviest pumpkin, which weighed 1 ton! Let's read our
sentence together. Wasn't that faster than reading the whole article? Did you still learn all
of the same things that the article told you?"

3. Pass out copies of 'A Frozen Wonder.' I would like for you all to read this article silently. We all
know that silent reading is when you read to yourself. Do we talk or make noises while we silent read? (No)
This article is about a kid that finds an ancient animal frozen in ice. While you read, I want you to be using your highlighters to mark down some important ideas in this article. (Give students a copy of the article and a highlighter.)

- After students have finished reading, get volunteers to share answers to fill out the chart used
with the previous article.
- Now, I want you to try to come up with your own sentence that summarizes what we read in
'A Frozen Wonder.'

- Write sentences students have shared on the board. As a class, choose the one(s) that best
summarized the article. This will provide the struggling students with various examples of text

4.”Now that I have shown you how to write a summary, I am going to let you practice summarizing by yourself. (Give each student a copy of the article 'Tombs Discovered in Egypt.') This article is going to tell us about how scientists found ancient mummies. First, I want you to read the article silently to yourself, using highlighter to highlight the sentences that have important details. Then, I want you to look over the information you have highlighted and decide what you think the main idea of the article is. On your sheet of paper, I would like for you to answer the questions that I have written on the board: What is the title of the article? What are some important details? What is the main idea of the article? Using these questions, write one or two sentences to summarize the article.

5. “Now, let's see if you can tell me what the article was about! Who can tell me some important details of the article that they highlighted? What was the main idea of the article? (Let students give their responses and pick out most important facts students give and write on the board) Ok, now look at your paper to see if you had some of the same ideas that the class had. Is your paper and the board similar?” (Note the students did not have papers similar to the board.)

6. During small group, I will assess students' ability to summarize and use the three step strategy with a checklist. Students will read the article 'To the Moon!' Afterward, Students will take turns guiding me through the summarization of the article. I will give students quiz on the readings to ensure comprehension was reached.



Developing (0)

Successful (1)

Student can identify main ideas

Student excludes unimportant components of the article

Student can write a brief summary of the article, utilizing only the main ideas of the text


1. Who grew a world record breaking pumpkin?

a. Scientists in Egypt         b. astronauts

c. Ron Wallace                 d. An 11 year old boy

2. What did scientists in Egypt find?

a. A giant pumpkin            b. Ancient tombs

c. A Wooly Mammoth       d. Gold

3. What weighed 1 ton?

a. The Wooly Mammoth     b. The tomb discovered in Egypt

c. A giant pumpkin              d. The satellite

4. Why did NASA crash a rocket on the Moon?

a. To look for fossils             b. To break the permafrost

c. To look inside the tombs   d. To look for water

5. What was inside the ancient tombs of Egypt?
a. A huge pumpkin               b. Water

c. Coffins with mummies      d. A satellite


Dykes, Haley. 'Three Steps to Summary.' http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/journeys/dykesrl.htm

Keady, Cameron. A Frozen Wonder. Time for Kids Online, 2012. http://www.timeforkids.com/news/frozen-wonder/51841

Kraus, Stephanie. It's a Great Pumpkin. Time for Kids Online, 2012. http://www.timeforkids.com/news/its-great-pumpkin/55511

Rosenbloom, Johnathon. To the Moon! Time for Kids Online, 2009. http://www.timeforkids.com/news/moon/21436

Rosenbloom, Johnathon.
Tombs Discovered in Egypt. Time for Kids Online, 2010. http://www.timeforkids.com/news/tombs-discovered-egypt/11861

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