Reading to Learn Lesson

Superb Summarization

 Reading to Learn

By: Grace Christian


Rationale: It is very important for all readers at any particular level to be able to comprehend and summarize a text.  By the time readers get to the third grade, they should no longer be learning to read, but instead participating in reading in order to learn.  Learning how to summarize will reinforce this learning while they are reading and will help them practice to retain a passage easier.  In order to summarize, the students must know what is the important information and what is the trivial information that they can simply delete.  In this lesson, students will be learning how to summarize by focusing on what is vital information and discarding the extra information that is unnecessary.

Materials: "Waves and Currents" article, computer, SMARTboard, poster with summarization rules, highlighters, pencils, and paper for each student.


1.      Say: Today we are going to focus on the act of summarization.  Who wants to tell me what they think summarization is? (Give multiple students a chance to respond).  Say: Those were all great responses! We know that summarization is something that we do in order to give the main idea of a passage in our own words.  We also know that in order to summarize, we must focus on the important information, what we often call the vital information in a passage.  As we focus on this information, we must delete the unimportant information, or something we call the trivial information.  Can anyone give me an example of a time when we would summarize something? (Give multiple students a chance to respond).  Say: Yes, those are all awesome examples.  I can think of an instance when we would need to summarize.  If our friend is asking about a book we are reading in order to see if they want to read it themselves, we don’t need to read them the whole book, we would just want to give them a summarization of the book.

2.      Say: Now we are going over the rules for summarizing a text.  Let’s read them together as I point to them.

a.       Read over the passage.

b.      Pick out the important information.

c.       Delete all other trivial information and any repeated information.

d.      Reread important information.

e.       Make a topic sentence that focuses on the main point of the important information.

f.        Write 2-3 sentences in your own words that gives the vital information of the passage.

3.      Say: Now I want you to look at the SMARTboard.  I want us to read this article aloud as a class.  After we are done reading it aloud, we will work together to delete the trivial information.  We will be crossing this information out with the highlighter.

Energy travels in waves. Waves can be in the water, but they can also be on land or in the air. A wave moves energy from one place to another. Light, sound and mechanical energy all travel in waves.


4. Say: Who wants to tell me what parts of these two sentences we can determine to be important, or vital, information? (Give student a chance to respond).  I agree with you, “Energy travels in waves, which can be in the water, or in the land and air and these waves move energy from one place to another” are the important parts of this excerpt. 

5.   Say: Let’s work together to make a topic sentence for the summary of this passage.  (Come up with this draft by asking for student input).


Energy comes in the form of waves, which can be all around us and come in all different types of forms.

Say: Does this sentence use all of the important information from the passage to introduce the summary? Is it copied from the text or is it put in our own words? (Give students a chance to respond).  Yes, it summarizes all of the important information and is put into our own words, which are the two most important parts of a topic sentence.


6. Ask students to return to their seats.  Say: Now, we just focused on an excerpt from this particular article when practicing summarization.  On your own, I would like you to read through this whole article and summarize the entire article for me.  I want you to do exactly what we did on the SMARTboard, highlighting the important information and marking out the trivial information.  Once you are done, I expect a short summarization with a topic sentence that summarizes the entire idea of the article.

7.   Students will turn in their assessment and be assessed based on the following checklist:


Did the student….



…delete trivial information from the passage?



…highlight vital information from the passage?



…compose a topic sentence and short summarization paragraph using main ideas and his or her own words?



…demonstrate comprehension of the passage through this paragraph summary?




If the no column is marked at all when assessing the students’ summary, they will be expected to reread the passage and compose a different summary in order to correct their mistakes.



Article: “Waves and Currents”

Lesson design:  Bierley, Valerie. “Strategic Summarizing”