Strategic Summarizing

Valerie Bierley

Reading to Learn

Rationale: Comprehension and summarization are very important strategies for readers at any particular skill level. By the third grade, students are no longer learning to read, but reading to learn. The ability to summarize is crucial in retaining the information students read, and it is also an important motivator. When students are learning to summarize, they are learning to decide what is important and what is trivial and unimportant. In this lesson, the focus will be deleting the trivial information and focusing on the important facts to form adequate summaries.

Materials: "Blue Whales" article, "Slow Down for Calvin the Right Whale" article, computer, SMARTboard, poster with summarization rules, highlighters, pencils, and paper for each student.


1. Say: Today we are going to talk about summarization. Can anyone tell me what a summary is? [Wait for responses.] Say: Right. When we summarize, we pick out the important information and delete the unimportant information. If someone in the class is absent when we read an important passage, we don't re-read the entire passage to them. We can summarize and tell them what they missed by reciting the important details.

2. Say: Now, let's look at the rules of summarization together and read them aloud.

a. Delete trivial information,

b. Delete repeated information,

c. Select a topic, and

d. Write a statement that includes all of the important information.

3. Say: Now, everyone turn to the SMARTboard. We are going to read this article aloud as a class, and after we finish reading, we are going to cross out the information that is not crucial to our understanding of the story. We are going to use our highlighters to mark the important information.

In 1992, the mother of a North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) was hit and killed by a ship in Canada's Bay of Fundy. Researchers studying these whales named the 8-month-old baby Calvin because they knew that in order for it to survive, it would need to be feisty, like the character in the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes.


4. Say: What parts of these two sentences are important to you? [Wait.] I agree. "In 1992, the mother of a North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) was hit and killed by a ship in Canada's Bay of Fundy." is the important part of the sentences.


5. Say: Let's draft a summary sentence of this paragraph. [Draft sentence by sharing details students find important.

A baby whale had to learn to survive on its own, because it's mother was hit and killed by a ship.

Say: Does this sentence include all of the important information out of the paragraph? Yes it does. It is a good summary sentence for this paragraph about the Baby Whale.

6. Have students return to their seats. Say: Now we will all continue this article, but this time I want you to summarize and find the important information on your own. I want you to use our strategies of highlighting what is important and marking out what is not. Once you have done this, I want you to write a topic sentence that includes the main parts of this article.

7. Students will be assessed based on the following checklist:

Did the student....



...delete unnecessary information from the passage?



...highlight the important information from the passage?



...draft one topic sentence that includes all important information, with no trivial information?



...demonstrate comprehension through a cohesive, detailed topic sentence?





If no is marked in any of the rows, the student will be given back the article and their work to correct their mistakes.




"Slow Down for Calvin the Right Whale"

"Blue Whales"

Lesson design: Caine, Brittany. "Let's get to summarizing!"


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