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RL Design

Rockin’ Summarizers!


RL Design

By: Mary Hope McGehee



Rationale: As students are learning to read, one of the main goals is reading comprehension because this shows that students have understood what they have read.  One of the key strategies to test for reading comprehension is summarizing. By summarizing the material, students are choosing the main ideas from the text, and highlighting the important facts.  This helps them to understand their reading in a more condensed version, while still comprehending the main idea of the material.  This lesson will help students gain the skills to summarize an article in order to understand the deeper meaning contained in it. Students will use the following summarization rules:

1. Cross out unimportant details or repeated ideas

2. Reduce parts of the text into fewer words

 3. Devise a topic sentence                           



1. Paper

2. Pencils

3. Highlighters

4. Smartboard

5. White board

6. Copies of the article, "New Dolphin Discovered in Australia" (one per student, one for teacher) Author unknown. Published by National Geographic Kids.

7. Copies of the article, "Honeybee Mystery" (one per student, one for teacher) by Catherine Clarke Fox. Published by National Geographic Kids.

8. List of summarization rules (above)

9. List of vocabulary words: enable, pollen, pollinators, and colonies

10. Assessment checklist (at end of lesson)




1.) "Today, we are going to practice a new strategy as we are reading. We are going to focus on summarizing because this will help us to comprehend the passage better as well as become rocking readers! Does anyone know what a summary is?" (Wait for a response) "It is a shorter version of a long text, and it contains only the main facts and ideas of the story or article." Give sample diagram of a picture of an umbrella with Main Idea written at the top and Details written in each section of the umbrella to show the students a visual representation of what they are going to do. “In order to summarize, we will first need to learn the summarization rules. Here are the summarization rules: First, we need to cross out useless sentences or repeated ideas. Then, we need to highlight the important facts and ideas and condense these into just a few sentences. And lastly, we need to choose the main idea of the article, so that we can create our topic sentence."


2.) "Today, we will practice by reading an article and summarizing it. (Post the summarization rules on a word document on your laptop connected to the smartboard and turn on the projector for the students to see). Make sure you refer to our summarization rules as you are doing this, and make sure you put the summary in your own words. The best way to do this is to read slowly, reread important parts, and to make notes. Before we get started, we will review our vocabulary words." Vocabulary list: enable, pollen, pollinators, and colonies


3.) To review the vocabulary, I will do the following for each word: explain what it means using a student-friendly definition, model how to use it in a sentence, provide sample questions for using the word, and scaffold the students in making a sentence with the word. Example: "Our first word is 'enable'. To enable means to give power to or to allow. For example, I enable you to write your spelling words by giving you a blank sheet of paper. Can anyone give me another example of enabling?  Let's make a sentence with this word. I will start off and I want you to finish it.  My parents enable me by….(let students answer) letting me eat candy, stay up late, etc."


4.) "Before we get to the article with these words in it, I will give you another article and show you what to do when you summarize. (Pass out "New Dolphin Discovered in Australia"). (Booktalk).  This article is about a new species of dolphin that was discovered in Australia.  How do you think this species of dolphin will be different from any dolphin that you have seen? (Article is short so that it will not be overwhelming.) Great! Now, the first thing I want to do is pick out any information in the article that is not important. I don't think we really need to know that Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia. Let's all take our pencil and cross that sentence out. Next, we need to pick out places that we can shorten the sentences. I think that instead of saying the new dolphin has been named the Burrunan dolphin, after an Aboriginal phrase meaning "large fish of the porpoise kind" we can say, this new dolphin has been named the Burrunan dolphin, meaning "large fish of the porpoise kind." This helps us because we are saying the same thing in a shorter way. Next, we need to create our topic sentence. We know that the article is about a new species of dolphin, so maybe our topic sentence could be a new species of dolphin has been discovered in Australia. Now we can use our topic sentence and the information that we have left to write our summary. On your own paper, write the topic sentence and the rest of the information that we have left in your own words. (Walk around to scaffold the writing.) Another idea would be to use about/point to create the topic sentence. Ask the students, "What is it about?" and "What is the main point?"


5.) Simple practice with a whole text: Give the students a new article to read and have them summarize this on their own. "Today we will practice our summarizing skills with the article, "Honeybee Mystery", by National Geographic Kids. (Booktalk) This article is about bees that are mysteriously disappearing and how their absence effects the environment. How do you think a shortage of bees might affect crops? Let's all take a moment to read the article. Don't forget our vocabulary words for this article that we already talked about. (Post vocabulary list to remind students.) Remember, you should first read the article, and then cross out any useless information, reduce parts of it to fewer words, compose a topic sentence, and write your summary on your own paper. I will come around to help and make sure everyone is doing well, please raise your hand if you need me."



Assessment: Take up student's summarizations from the article above and evaluate using this table:


When summarizing did the student:


Delete unimportant information?

Delete repeated information?

Reduce text to few words?

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


Also, ask the following comprehension questions:

What point was the author making about the topic? (putting together)

Where were the dolphins found and why do you think they were found there? (writer and me)

What is different about these dolphins and how are they different from a dolphin you have seen? (writer and me)

What is the name of the new dolphin and why did they give it this name? (putting together)





National Geographic Kids. Author unknown. "New Dolphin Discovered in Australia". 19 September 2011. Web. 3 April 2012.http://kidsblogs.nationalgeographic.com/2011/09/19/new-dolphin-discovered-in-australia/

National Geographic Kids

Fox, Catherine. "Honeybee Mystery"


Bullard, Taylor. "Let's Be Sensational Summarizers." http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/awakenings.html


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