Summing it UP!

Reading to Learn

By Maggie Dean

Rationale: Comprehension is a key component to becoming a fluent reader. The main goal to reading with speed is having comprehension of printed language so that students can read fast enough to understand the text that they are reading. To help students reach this goal they must learn strategies in order to become successful. Ask a student to read a text and then have them repeat their main ideas back in their own words. If they can do this successfully, then they are comprehending the text. In this lesson students will practice summarizing by remembering important information and eliminating the unnecessary details. Acquiring this skill will help students become better readers.


Individual copies of Dolphins at Daybreak

Chart paper

Poster board with passage of “How to make a P.B. and J”

Highlighters for each student



1. Say, “Today we are going to learn how to summarize what we read. A summary is an explanation of the story read but in a shorter version. When summarizing a story you should pick out the main details of the story by putting together the details that are most important to understanding the story and getting rid of the parts that do not matter. Today we are going to read passages and learn more about how to summarize them.”

2. “An important strategy to summarizing is reading a text independently and asking yourself questions while you are reading.”  I will now read the passage “How to make a P.B. and J” to model to students how to summarize. The passage will be written on chart paper so the students can follow along as I read and model. “I am going to read a passage to you to demonstrate how I would read and summarize it. As I read, I am going to highlight the parts that I think are important. This will make it easier to form my summary at the end.” While reading, I will model different types of questions they should ask themselves and how to do so. Finally, after I am done reading, I will show the students how I would go back and look over my highlighted texts to help me form and write a summary.

3. After I am done modeling, I will pass out copies of Dolphins at Daybreak for the class to read independently. Book talk: “Jack and his little sister have a magic tree house that leads them to an underwater adventure of a life time. They run into trouble when a giant octopus and a very hungry shark show up. Will the dolphins save them? You’ll have to read to find out. As you are reading, make sure you are thinking about the important parts of the story in order to form your summary. To help you do this, I want you to highlight the important parts to help you form your summary.”

4. After the students are all done reading they will turn to their partner to discuss what they have each highlighted and decide if they both recognized the important parts. After the partners are done discussing, they will write a summarization of Dolphins at Daybreak individually. I will encourage them to do their best. I will walk around during this time to monitor each student’s individual work.

5. To assess students’ knowledge of comprehension and summarization, they will turn in their highlighted work and individual summaries for me to determine how well they can use the strategies taught in this lesson. I will also ask reading comprehension questions related to what they read.



Osborne, Mary Pope. Dolphins at Daybreak. Scholastic Inc., 1997

Belinda Thornton, How Do We Sum That Up?

Trinity L. Dyess, 1…2…3…You’ve Got a Summary

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