Super Summarizing


Reading to Learn

Sarah Plier


Rationale: Once students have learned to read fluently, then they must read to learn. The ultimate goal of reading is comprehension, which is proof that the reader has learned from reading the text. This lesson focuses on summarizing, a strategy to help students begin to read to learn. This lesson will help students learn to summarize by teaching them to delete trivial and redundant information and focus on the important parts of a text, underlining important words or phrases and using them to form a topic sentence.



- Class set (including one for teacher) of copies of page two and page three in Who Was Steve Jobs?

- Blank bookmark shaped like an apple (for each student)

- Markers (1 pack per group of students)

- Poster with summarizing rules (1. Delete unimportant or repeated information 2. Find important information 3. Write a topic sentence)

- Overhead projector

- Pencil and paper (for each student)

- Assessment Sheet


Assessment Sheet:

Did the student?



Get rid of unimportant information?



Get rid of repeated information?



Underline important information?



Write an organized topic sentence using only the important information?




  1. Say: "Today we will be talking about a strategy that will help you comprehend what you read. As a fluent reader, you want to read to learn, and by comprehending what you have read you are able to show that you learned. To comprehend means to understand. The first step in understanding what you have read is summarizing. Today we will learn how to summarize. To summarize means to recap or retell what you have read using the important details from the reading. Summarizing will help you understand and remember what you have read."
  2. Say: "Before we learn how to summarize, let’s review what we’ve been talking about lately! Who can tell me what we have been talking about in language arts? (Call on student) That’s right! We have been talking about biographies. Now let’s review some vocabulary we have discussed while talking about biographies. While reading Who Was Steve Jobs? we discussed the vocabulary word entrepreneur and said that an entrepreneur was a person who takes on the organization and operation of a business. You could say, "My dad became an entrepreneur when he started his own wood carving business." Which of these could be an entrepreneur: a mailman, a restaurant owner, or a bank teller? (Call on student) That’s right! A restaurant owner would be an entrepreneur because they would own the restaurant and oversee its operation. Some other words we could discuss would be computer, machine, and gadget.
  3. Say: "Now let’s get back to learning about summarizing. I am going to show you some summarizing rules to help you learn how to form a summary after reading a text. (Show the summarizing poster) I have given each of you a blank bookmark in the shape of an apple (to represent the company Steve Jobs worked for). I want you to take your markers and copy down these summarizing rules listed on the poster onto your bookmark. The first step in summarizing is to get rid of trivial or unimportant information. This would be any information that is repeated or not vital information to retell what you read. Go ahead and write down that first rule (allow time for writing). What the first rule is telling us is that we want to mark through information that we read that is not important so that we block it out. We may have to mentally block out that information instead of physically marking through it if we are reading from a text book. The next step or second rule is finding important information. Go ahead and write down this rule. (Allow time for writing) So, when you read a text and see something important you want to write down a key word, underline, highlight or do something to acknowledge the important details. Lastly, the third rule of summarizing is to write a topic sentence. Write this rule down. (Allow time for writing) What exactly is a topic sentence you might say? A topic sentence is pulling together the important information from the paragraphs of a text and expressing it in one sentence. I will explain this more in detail in a moment, and we will practice it together."
  4. Pass out copies of page two and page three of Who Was Steve Jobs? and display the text on the overhead projector. Introduce the book before working with it as a class. Say: "Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live in the time period before there were computers? Have you ever wondered who came with these useful machines? In the book I just gave you, we are going to read about a man named Steve Jobs who was a huge influence in the world of technology that we use so often today. Now we will practice summarizing as a class using the first couple of pages in this book about Steve Jobs. Everyone  look at the second page with me and follow along as I read the first paragraph of it aloud:

            When Steve grew up, he started a company that built machines. Not just any machine, but a machine Steve was sure would soon become part of daily life, just like cars and TV sets. What was this machine? A personal computer. 


As you follow along with me, pay attention to how I follow each of our three rules. Let’s look at the first sentence: "When Steve grew up, he started a company that built machines." What is important about this sentence? (Give time for thought) Good! It is important that we know that Steve jobs started a company that built machines. So I am going to underline the part that says "Steve Jobs started a company that built machines" and cross through all of the words leading up to that part of the sentence because they are not as important.  Let’s keep reading. Look at the second sentence: "Not just any machine, but a machine Steve was sure would soon become part of daily life, just like cars and TV sets." What is important in this sentence? (Give time for thought) I think it is important that the reader knows this machine could become a big part of our daily lives. So, I am going to mark through the first part of the sentence, "not just any machine, but a machine Steve was sure would soon become" and underline only the part of the sentence that says "part of daily life." We can also cross through "just like cars and TV sets" because they are just examples.  I do think it is important that we know what this machine was called and that question is answered for us at the end of the paragraph. Let’s take a look: "What was this machine? A personal computer." So, I am going to mark through the question and just underline the answer, "A personal computer."

We just applied rules one and two of summarizing to the first paragraph on page two of the text. Now, we want to follow rule three to complete our summarizing rules. Rule three says to create a topic sentence using the words we have underlined and identified as important information in the text. Looking back at what we underlined, we have the following: "Steve Jobs started a company that built machines," "part of daily life", and "a personal computer."  Now let’s put these underlined phrases together to create a good topic sentence for paragraph one on page two: "Steve Jobs started a company that built machines called personal computers, and they would one day become part of daily life." Do you understand how we came up with this topic sentence using the underlined parts of the text and eliminating all of the other words? Are there any questions?"

  1. Say: "Now I want you to practice summarizing the rest of page two and page three. I want you to break the pages down into paragraphs, and for each paragraph use the three summarizing rules to form a topic sentence. Remember to cross through words that are less important and underline the important words or phrases in the paragraph. Then combine the underlined parts to form one good topic sentence that summarizes the paragraph. I want you to write a topic sentence for each paragraph on page two and page three. When you are finished with your topic sentences, please turn them in along with your copies of pages two and three from the book so I can see your markings. Then, you may finish decorating your bookmark, making sure that all three summarizing rules are neatly written on it."

Assessment: I will use each student’s topic sentences from the paragraphs on pages two and three of the text to assess their knowledge of summarizing.  I will also assess their markings within the text that shows what information they chose to eliminate and which words they found important. I will use the assessment checklist listed above for each student which will help me know whether each student followed the summarizing rules and understood how to make a topic sentence. The topic sentences will vary from student to student but should all contain the same general information, within reason.  Since we are just learning the skill of summarizing and writing topic sentences, I will also ask that the students answer the following comprehension questions:

1. Who inspired Steve Jobs and his love for machines because he, too, worked on them for a living?

2. In 1946, about how big were computers?

3. Who used computers to gather information years ago?

4. Where was Apple Computers started?



Deason, Morgan Grace. Soaring Into Summarizing!

Pam Pollack and Meg Belviso. Who Was Steve Jobs? Penguin Group: 2012.

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