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Reading to Learn


Sky-High Summarization



Reading to Learn
A Lesson for Teaching Summarization by Caroline Rush


Summarization is extremely important when learning to fully comprehend text. In order to become skillful readers, students must be able to successfully summarize what they are reading by determining what the main ideas and key points are. This lesson will help students select main ideas in a passage to effortlessly summarize a text.


Pencil, paper, highlighter, black sharpies, pictures of each of the vocabulary words (aerie, fledgling, down, mature), passage “Facts About Bald Eagles” on SmartBoard (students will have a printed copy of the passage), class copies of “Facts About Bald Eagles” article from National Geographic Kids, and class copies of the summarization checklist.

Did your partner?



Get rid of unimportant information?



Get rid of repeated information?



Underline important information?



Write an organized summary using only the important information?



Tell you important facts about the passage?




1. The teacher will say, “Today we are going to explore the strategy of summarization. Can anybody tell me what summarization is and how we can use it while reading? (Teacher will allow time for students to answer the question). Great job! Summarization means to take all of the important information and ideas out of a story and put those main ideas into your own words. Less important ideas in a story get ‘thrown to the side’ while the more important ideas stand out and create a simpler story of their own that you can easily re-tell in your own words. While summarizing, you will become the author of your own readings!”

2. Teacher will show pictures of the different vocabulary words and their processes. The words are: aerie, fledgling, down, and mature. Example: “Our first vocabulary word is aerie. An aerie is the nest of a large bird. For example, a mother hawk will leave her aerie to find food for her babies. Can anyone think of other birds that might have an aerie? (Let students answer). Good job!”

3. Say: “Now I am going to show you a passage entitled “Facts About Bald Eagles” on the SmartBoard. This passage will help us to become bald eagle experts!!  Let’s read to become experts. I want you to read the first paragraph silently or “brain read” to yourself as I read the passage aloud. (Each student will have a printed copy of the passage.). The teacher will model how to delete unnecessary information and pick out the important facts.  As I am reading the passage, I want you to highlight the main ideas in the story and cross out the minor or unimportant details in the story (The teacher will pass out highlighters and black sharpies for students to use during the passage example). As a class, the teacher will ask the questions: What did you highlight in this first paragraph?  What ideas were important?  What information was not important to highlight?  Did you highlight or cross out more of the passage with your sharpie?”  (The teacher will call upon several students in order for students to get a better understanding of how to summarize a text). The teacher will then have students help write a couple of summarization sentences on the SmartBoard. 

4. Say:  “I want you to think independently in your brain about why you think summarizing is important while reading? (The teacher will allow time for the students to think about the answer). Now turn to the person sitting next to you and share your thoughts and opinions on why you think summarizing is important. Try to combine your answers to form one well thought out answer. (Teacher will give students time to discuss with partner). Let’s have some partners volunteer to share their collaborations to the class! (Allow time for students to share). Terrific answers!  Summarization helps us to better understand what we have just read.”

5. Say: “As you read the rest of this passage, I want you to independently focus while reading to use our summarization strategy to carefully cross out any information that is not important with your black sharpie. I want you to also focus on what information is important and is considered main ideas in our passage. The main ideas and facts should be highlighted with your highlighter as you read along. After you are done reading, seeing what you have highlighted will help you to write a summary. This summary should have five sentences that contain flawless grammar and punctuation. Remember to focus on the major ideas and not the minor, unimportant, ones.”

6. Say:  “Now that each of you have been given time to read the story and summarize the main points of the passage, I want you to turn it in.” Using the checklist, the teacher will look at the summaries to see if students have all of the components of a successful summary, or if there is a missing component


“Facts About Bald Eagles” by Scot Hoffman   http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/sites/kids/NGS/wpf/printcreature/baldeagle.html

McMillan, Mery. “Summarization is a Piece of Cake.”


Meyer, Kelly. “Soaring with Summarization”


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