Reading to Learn                            

                                           Splash into Summarizing

                                                                            Reading to Learn Lesson Design

                                                                                        By: Mayce  Bishop



As students reach other elementary grade, it is important for them to develop strong comprehension skills. Summarizing is a skill that can be used as an affective strategy to assess students’ comprehension by having them recall important points from a passage or a story. Teachers can provide instruction on how to summarize to assist students in developing this skill. This lesson will help teach children how to summarize by deleting trivial and redundant information and to find or create a topic that highlights the main ideas of the story.



       -       Copies of National Geographic Article: Egyptian Cats Rule Egypt By: Donna Napoli

       -       Copies of National Geographic Article: Kids help Rino, Writing to Save Endagered Species By: Katherine Eban

       -       Pencil for each student

       -       Paper for each student

       -       White Board

        -       Expo markers

        -       A bookmark for each student with the 5 summarization steps on

Summarization steps:


1.     Pick out important details that are necessary to the story.

2.     Pick out the less important or repeated ideas from the passage and eliminate them.

3.     Highlight the important and necessary details using key words.

4.     Pick a topic sentence

5.     Invent a topic sentence if there is none.


          1.     Begin instruction by saying, “We are going to be doing some silent reading today. However, before we begin let’s discuss how we read silently. Turn and talk to your partners about some things we should do during silent reading, and then some things we shouldn’t do. Have students share comments. After sharing, give restate key factors of silent reading such as; we do not talk or say any words as we are reading, we keep our eyes focused on only our story, and we do not disturb our neighbor.

            2.     Next, I will model for the students how we read silently. I will exaggerate my eye movement from right to left and may also move my mouth to the sound of each word so students can see how silent reading should take place.

            3.      Next, I will introduce the lesson by saying,  “An important step in comprehension is to be able to summarize a story. This ensures that you are grasping the main points of a passage. A good way to understand something is to summarize. When we summarize a story, we pick out the main ideas and facts so we can remember the important aspects of the story. Sometimes there is a lot of information in a story but only the most important details are needed to help us understand the story. Today we are going to learn some rules that will help us summarize a story.”

            4.      I will write the first five steps on the board. I will go through each step so students will understand them. I will say, “The first step is to pick out important details that we think are necessary to the story.  Number two says to pick out the less important ideas or ideas that are repeated and take them away.  Number three says to highlight the important and necessary details using key words.  Next, we pick a topic sentence.  Our last step is to invent a topic sentence if we don’t have one.  I’m going to pass out bookmarks to each of you that have these steps on them so you won’t forget our 5 steps of summarization.  You can use these whenever you need a little help.”

            5.      Hand out copies of the National Geographic article; Cats Rule Ancient Egypt to each student. Provide an engaging introduction by asking engaging questions such as; “Can you predict what this article is about? What do you think the title means? What do you want to learn about this article? Say, “As a class we are going to work on creating a summary from this article. Explain to the students that a great way to help us remember important things from the article is to make a story map. Say, “Today, we are going to silently read the article to ourselves, and then together we will create our story map. When I say begin, I want you to begin reading. As you read, try to remember what the article is about. When you and your partner are finished, you may discuss the article and tell each other what you think it is about. You may begin reading now.”

            6.      I will walk around the room and monitor students by listening and taking notes of their comments. I will say,  “We are going to construct a story map. When we do this, we draw a big circle in the middle of our page and we write the topic of the story inside the circle (Model on the board). Who can tell me what the topic of the story is? Good Job! Ancient Egyptian Cats. Therefore, I am going to write,  ‘Ancient Egyptian Cats’ in the center of our circle.

            7.     Say, “Remember it is very important that we are only including information that is important in explaining our story. Use your highlighter to highlight important details and key words. Watch how I use my highlighter to add my important facts to our story map.”

            8.     Say, “We have now identified our topic. Next, we add on to our story map by drawing lines from our topic sentence bubble and draw new circles at each end (model on board). Now we brainstorm different facts we found that are important. Our ideas will go in the bubbles connected to the lines connected to our topic sentence. Remember, we only want to put information in our bubbles that is important to our article.  Hmmm, as I look back over my article, I notice that the sentence, ‘Ancient Egyptians thought cats were magical and brought luck’ is a very important face. So now, I am going to highlight it and add it to a bubble connected to my topic on my story map. (Model this on board) Example: ‘Ancient Egyptians thought cats were magical and brought luck. Can anyone think of anything that wouldn’t be an important fact to add? That’s right! We wouldn’t want to write ‘Ancient Egyptians valued dogs for hunting’ because that is not tell us anything about the cats in Ancient Egypt. What could we do to eliminate this unnecessary sentence? That’s right! We could draw a line through the unneeded information in our story. (Model this on the board) Example: ‘Ancient Egyptians valued dogs for hunting’. Now that I have crossed this out, I know not to add it in my story map or summary.

            9.      Say, “Now that we have started our story map, you can finish working on it with your partner. Remember to use your highlighters to focus on the important details of the story and also to think of a few words that can replace a longer sentence or a list of words and events. Also, remember to cross out unneeded information. “Once all of you have completed your maps, we will work together to write our summary paragraph as a class.”

            10.  Once class summary is complete pass out the article, Kids Help Rino. Provide an engaging introduction to article before students read. Say, “Our article is called Kids Help Rino. This article is about kids just like you guys! Can you guys predict what you think this article is going to be about? Why do you think kids are helping Rinos? Do you think it’s important to help protect animals?  Isn’t it cool how kids just like you are helping protect animals around the world? When we read the article we will summarize what it is all about!

            11.  Review the vocabulary word, endangered. Say, “Let’s look at the word endangered in our article. Endangered is used in the sentence,  ‘Fifth graders in New York are helping the most critically endangered of the five remaining rhino species: the Sumatran rhino.’ The word endangered in our article means an animal that is seriously at risk of extinction, having no living members. ” Model how to use the word in a sentence. Write on the board, ‘Bald eagles are endangered because there are only a few species left.’ Say, “Do you think that dogs could be described as endangered species? Why do you think a species would become endangered?” Have students write a complete sentence using the word endangered.

            12.  Now, I want you to read this article silently to yourself and form your own story map and summary. Remember to go through you 5 step summary checklist. 

            13.  To assess the students on the process of summarizing, I will ask comprehension questions such as; What was the topic of this article? What information did you find important to include? Why do you think it was important? What did you learn about endangered species? What did you learn about ways you can help protect Rhinos? I will ask them to turn in their copy of the passage and examine it to see if they have picked out and crossed out the correct details. I will read over their summaries as if I did not know the answer. The students will be graded using this rubric:



 When summarizing,did the student:      Yes      No
 Construct a simple topic sentence answering the question?  
 Delete unimportant information?  
 Include supporting details?  
 Delete repeated information?  
 Organize summary with big idea?  





Eban, Kathrine. Kids Help Rino, Writing to Save Endangered Species. National Geographic Kids News.



Napoli, Donna. Egyptian Cats Rule Ancient Egypt. National Geographic Kids News.


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Williams, Lindsay All in a Nutshell