Super Summarizing

A Reading to Learn Lesson Design

Rebecca Tarleton


Rationale: When students read, the main goal is comprehension. This is most important because it shows that they have understood what they have read. One of the key strategies for comprehension is summarizing. By summarizing, students are getting the main ideas of the text and getting the important facts. This helps them understand all of the text in a more condensed form. This lesson is designed to help and teach students the skills on how to summarize an article, in order for them to understand the main idea of a text. Students will use these summarization rules to guide them in summarizing a text: take out unimportant or repeated information, reduce parts of the text into fewer words, and make a topic sentence.



·     Copies of the article, "Crabs Clean Up" (one per student, one for teacher) Catherine Clarke Fox. Published by National Geographic Kids.

·     Copies of the article, "Drinking Water: Bottled or From the Tap?" (one per student, one for teacher) Catherine Clarke Fox. Published by National Geographic Kids.

·     White board

·     List of summarization rules

·     Highlighters for each student

·     Pencil and paper for each student

·      Assessment checklist



1.   "To become great readers and completely understand what we're reading, remember we must know all the words in the text. If we don't know a word, stop, decode it, and then reread it. This helps our fluency so we can read smooth and fast. This will help us build our reading skills so that we can summarize texts when we read them. Today we're going to be practicing a new strategy as we read. We will summarize what we read so that we can better understand the main idea of the text. Great readers summarize to get the shorter version of the text, yet still get the full understanding of the main ideas. The summary of a text describes the main details and important facts of a text." Show diagram of an umbrella with Main Idea at the top and Details in the sections of the umbrella. "Summarizing is like using an umbrella. We have the main idea of the text and then the details below it that give us more information, but we really only need to know the main idea to understand what it is about. The details just help us to better understand what they want us to know about."

2.    "When we summarize we use these three rules: take out unimportant or repeated information, highlight important information and reduce parts of the text into fewer words, and make a topic sentence. Today we will use these three rules to help us come up with summaries of two articles. We need to make sure we use these rules as we are summarizing and making sure that the summary is in our own words."

3.   "Now I'm going to give you an article to show you how to summarize and use these three rules." (Pass out copies of "Crabs Clean Up") "This article is about how tiny crabs that are only a centimeter long help keep coral reefs alive by cleaning them. How do you think the crab cleans the reef? Lets all read the article to see what they suggest we do." (Students read article. Article should not take long to read because it is short.)

4.   First, I want to pick out any information that I don't think is important or has been repeated. I don't think we need to know the first sentence in the second paragraph, the third, or last paragraph because they are just repeating what the paragraph before it is saying. Lets take our pencils and cross out that first sentence in the second paragraph, the third paragraph, and then last paragraph."

5.   "Next, we need find some places where we can shorten the paragraphs. In the first and second paragraph we can shorten it by saying, "Tiny crabs about one centimeter long keep coral reefs alive. Particles of dirt, or sediment, are bad for living coral." So lets get our highlighters and highlight those parts of the two paragraphs because those are the more important parts. In the fourth paragraph we can shorten this by highlighting on the part that says, "Like many living things, they each help the other. The coral provides a home for the crab, and the crab protects the coral." This condenses our five paragraphs into four sentences."

6.   "Last, we need to make a topic sentence. We know that the tiny crabs help clean the coral so that it does not get damaged and it can stay alive. Maybe our topic sentence should be Tiny crabs help keep coral reefs alive by cleaning dirt that builds on them. Now we can use our topic sentence and the sentences we highlighted to make our summary. On your own paper, write the topic sentence and then our highlighted information in your own words. (Walk around room to observe writing.)

7.   "You have done a great job so far. Now I am going to let you practice summarizing on your own. I am going to give you an article called "Drinking Water: Bottled or From the Tap?" This article is about the difference of bottled water and drinking water from your kitchen sink. Bottled water is dangerous for our planet and there are many ways to help stop this. What do you think are some ways we can prevent this? You are going to use the three rules to help you summarize this article just like we did together. Remember, read the article first, then cross out information that is not important or that is repeated, reduce parts of it to fewer words, compose a topic sentence, and write your summary on your own paper. Also remember to write the summary in your own words. Raise your hand if you need any help."


Assessment: Take up student's summarizations from the article. Use this rubric to evaluate:


In summarization, did the student:

Take out unimportant information?          Yes / No

Take out repeated information?               Yes / No

Reduce text to fewer words?                    Yes / No

Write a simple topic sentence?                Yes / No


Also ask QAR's after writing summaries:

How is drinking from the sink better than water bottles? (right there)

How do plastic bottles pollute the environment? (putting it together)

Why do you think people don't realize how much of a problem water bottles cause? (writer and me)

How can you make a difference and help the problem with pollution? (on my own)



Taylor Bullard, Let's be Sensational Summarizers!

National Geographic Kids. Catherine Clarke Fox. "Crabs Clean Up"

National Geographic Kids. Catherine Clarke Fox. "Drinking Water: Bottled or From the Tap?"



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