Add it Together and It's a Summary!!

Reading to Learn

Shelly Roark

Rationale: As students are reading, one of the main goals is comprehension because this shows that they have understood the material that they are reading. The most important strategy is summarizing the main idea to remember and understand the important parts of the text. This helps them to understand their reading in a more condensed version, while still comprehending the main idea of the material. This lesson will help students gain the skills to summarize an article, in order to understand the deeper meaning contained in it. To effectively summarize a text, students will use the following rules: cross out unimportant details or repeated ideas, reduce parts of the text into fewer words, and choose a topic sentence.



1. Paper for students

2. Pencils for students

3. Highlighters for students

4. Projector

5. White board

6. Copies of the article, "Spring Peeper" National Geographic Kids. (for each student)

7. Copy of the article, "The Truth About Your Heart" National Geographic Kids. (on overhead)

8. Poster board with a list of summarization rules on it.

9. Assessment checklist (at end of lesson)



1.    I will begin by introducing the comprehension strategy summarizing. "Today, we are going to practice a new strategy as we are reading. We are going to focus on summarizing because this will help us to understand and remember the passage better as well as become amazing readers! Does anyone know what summarizing means?" "Yes, correct! When you summarize a text you pick out the most important information that the story is telling you. Books are filled with words, but when you summarize you delete any information that doesn't really matter. Only the main ideas and facts help us understand what happens in the story and today we are going to figure out how to find this information. In order to summarize, we will first need to learn our summarization rules. They are the following: First, cross out useless sentences or repeated ideas. Then, highlight the important facts and ideas and condense these into just a few sentences. And lastly, choose the main idea of the article, so that we can create our topic sentence."

2.   "Today, we will practice by reading an article and summarizing it. The article is called Spring Peepers. (I will post the summarization rules poster on the whiteboard) Make sure you pay close attention to the summarization rules as you go through this activity. As you summarize, make sure you read slowly, reread important parts, and take notes on the sides of your paper."

3.   "First, we will go over our vocabulary, the words are: lowlands, Spring Peeper, nocturnal, serenade, and predator. To review the vocabulary, I will do the following things for each word: explain what it means in simple vocabulary, model how to use it, provide sample questions for using the word, and scaffold the students in making a sentence with the word. Example: "One of  our words is nocturnal. A nocturnal animal is an animal that hides from predators during the day and is active and hunts at night. For example, in this article, the Spring Peeper, which is a type of frog, is nocturnal, meaning that they are mostly active at night. Can anyone tell me another type of animal that is nocturnal? A raccoon? That's correct, that is one of the many different types of animals that are nocturnal. They all have the same characteristics and features. Let's make a sentence with this word. I will start off and I want you to finish it. The __________ is a nocturnal animal. (Porcupine, Oppossum, Owl, etc.)

4.   "Before we summarize the article with these words in it, we will do one together on the overhead." (Put up "The Truth About Your Heart" article on the overhead). (Booktalk) This article is about the truth about your heart: where it is actually located in your body, its' actual shape, and how many heartbeats it takes to pump blood. (Now I will call on several students to read the article.) Great! I will be modeling this for the students and asking them questions as we go through the steps. "Now let's start summarizing! Let's first look at the rules! First we must cross out useless sentences or repeated ideas. So let's cross out the first, second, and fourth paragraphs because we don't really need to know about Valentine's Day or the color of an unhealthy heart. I will take my pencil and cross out this information.  Let's leave the sentence about the size of the heart because I think that is an important visual for us to have in our minds. We can shorten the next paragraph about where the heart is located by crossing out the first sentence about the Pledge of Allegiance-we can figure out the gist of this paragraph without that sentence, can't we? In the next paragraph let's cross out the last sentence because it is not important. The eighth paragraph is pretty important but we can cross through the last section about blood vessels circling the Earth 2 and a half times. The next two paragraphs are pretty important, so we don't need to change anything do we? For the last paragraph, we can cross out all of it because it is talking about Valentine's Day again and not the actual heart. Now, let's do step two! Next, we need to create a topic sentence. We know that the article is about our hearts, how they pump blood, and how we can take care of our hearts. How about, In order for us to live, we need to know what we can do to best help our heart function and pump blood. Now we can use our topic sentence and the information that we have left to write our summary. On your own paper, write the topic sentence and the rest of the information that we have left in your own words. Great job! (Walk around to scaffold the writing.)

5.    Simple individual practice with a whole text: Give the students a new article to read and have them summarize this on their own. "Today we will practice our summarizing skills with the article, "Spring Peepers", by National Geographic Kids. (Booktalk) This article talks about a special kind of frog, the Spring Peeper. What do you think makes the Spring Peeper such a unique frog? Don't forget our vocabulary words for this article that we already talked about. Remember, you should first read the article, then cross out any useless information, reduce parts of it to fewer words, compose a topic sentence, and write your summary on your own paper. You can use the highlighters in your baskets to help you identify the important information! I will be walking around the classroom to help, so please raise your hand if you need me."


Assessment: Take up student's summarizations from the article above and evaluate using this table:

Assessment Checklist:


When summarizing did the student…?



Delete unnecessary information?



Delete repeated information?



Reduce text to few important words?



Write a simple topic sentence to summarize the passage?





Also, ask the following comprehension questions:

1.    What point was the author making in the article? (putting together)


2.   Why do you think that Spring Peepers are nocturnal? (writer and me)


3.   What is different about the way these frogs look, and how does it look different from frogs you have seen? (writer and me)


4.   What kinds of questions are these? Right there, putting it together, writer and me, or on my own? Put the name next to each question.



 Smith, Jamie. "Sweet Summarizers."


National Geographic Kids. Lyssa White. "Spring Peepers"


National Geographic Kids.  Unknown author. "The Truth About Your Heart"

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