Reading to Learn Lesson Design

“Ready, Set, Summarize!”

                                                            By Hillary Goins

Reading to Learn


Rationale: Our goal for readers is to comprehend the information they are reading. One strategy that will help with comprehension is summarizing. Summarizing just means identifying and recalling the main ideas in a text.  This lesson will give students brief steps in summarization and allow students to put their knowledge of summarization into practice. Students will practice their skills on short passages while using the summarization checklist.



-Copies of Polar Bears Listed as Threatened

-Copies of Honey Bee Mystery

-Summarization checklist on poster board: delete unimportant information, delete repeated information, pick out important information, create the topic sentence

-Summarizing checklist


1.  Say: "Today we are going to be talking about summarizing. Does anyone know what summarizing means? Summarizing just means to find the main ideas in the text. We need to use summarizing when we read so we make sure and comprehend the story. Does anyone know what comprehend means? Comprehend just means to understand something. Summarizing is one of the steps that helps us comprehend the text."

Now review with students the summarization checklist (listed above).

-We need to delete unimportant information because that information doesn't help us understand the text

-We need to delete repeated information because that information will just confuse us, and those facts have already been stated

-We need to pick out important information because that information provides us with details on what the text is about

-We need to create a topic sentence because that helps us know what the text is about and what the main idea is.


 2. Say: "Before we practice summarization, we are going to go over vocabulary. Lets look at the word habitat. A habitat is the natural environment for an animal. A shark’s habitat is the ocean. A cheetah’s habitat is the jungle. A polar bear’s habitat is the artic.

Finish this sentence, the habitat for a deer is the….

Possible answer: woods, forest, etc.

Another important word to look at is threaten. Threaten means to indicate danger.


3. Display the summarization checklist on poster board for the students to see. Go over the checklist again explicitly. Say: "Now I'm going to show you how to summarize an article. I'm going to cross out unimportant information and repeated information and underline important information. I'm also going to find the topic sentence. I will summarize this article in one sentence.


Polar bears were added to the list of threatened species and will receive special protection under U.S. law. In his statement, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne noted that the decline of Arctic sea ice is the greatest threat to the bears. Polar bears live in the Arctic and hunt seals and other fatty marine mammals from sea ice. They also travel, mate, and sometimes give birth on the ice. But sea ice is melting as the planet warms, and it is predicted to continue to do so for several more decades.


I'm going to cross out information that is repeated information and unimportant information. I'm going to underline important information that is we have to have to understand the text. Then I'm going to create a topic sentence. Ask yourself these questions, what's this passage about? What's the big idea?

I'm going to cross out that Dirk Kempthorne noted the decline of the Artic sea ice. This statement doesn’t help us figure out what the article is about. Polar bears is being repeated several times so I just crossed that out. The second half of the last sentence in this text is unimportant and doesn't help us figure out what the text's meaning is.


Summary: Polar bears were added to the list of threatened species because as the planet gets warmer the artic sea ice continues to melt.


4. Say: "Now let's try summarizing a paragraph together. Everyone turn to the next page. Remember our summarization checklist. We are going to underline important information and cross out unimportant information and repeated information. Remember to create that topic sentence!"


Although many scientists say that human activity is directly responsible for the melting sea ice, the new polar bear protections will not change U.S. climate policy.
The U.S. classifies the polar bear as a marine mammal, which means that the bear's new threatened status will not stop oil exploration within its habitat.  Hunting of polar bears as a food source by certain native people and trade in native handicrafts made from polar bears will also continue.


Topic: Despite the melting sea ice, polar bears will continue to die.

Why? Polar bears are hunted by humans for food and because polar bears are considered marine mammals oil exploration continues in their habitat.

Summary: Polar bears will become extinct because of melting sea ice, being hunted for food, and interrupted habitats.


5. "Today we will practice our summarizing skills when reading. We are going to be reading about why so many honey bees are dying. You will have to read and find out about this crazy mystery. We are going to read the entire National Georgaphic article. You will stop and write a summary sentence after each paragraph. Remember to use our summarization checklist and underline important information, cross out unimportant information and repeated information. Most importantly, write that topic sentence!"


6. Assessment:

For assessment I will use the checklist listed below to grade the students summarizing skills.

When summarizing, did the student…






Delete unimportant information?






Delete repeated information?






Select a topic?






Write an inclusive, accurate and, simple topic sentence to summarize the passage?









“Honey Bee Mystery”


“Polar Bears Listed as Threatened”


Reading Genie Website; Shelby Jordan- "Speedy Summarizers!"