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Reading to Learn Lesson

Let’s Sum It Up!

Katie Carter

 A Reading to Learn Lesson

Rationale: Comprehension is a very important final step in a student’s reading development. When a student reads for comprehension, they are no longer spending time decoding words, instead, they are focused on understanding the message of the text. In order for students to be successful readers, they need to be able to comprehend the text they read. In this lesson, students will practice summarization as a comprehension strategy. The students will summarize text by selecting important information and eliminating unnecessary details. The teacher will model how students detect important information that is needed to write an effective summary.




Informational paragraphs for students to practice with

Copies of National Geographic Readers: Sea Turtles 



Summary checklist


1. Say, “We all want to be good readers, right? Well, we know that good readers are fluent, but did you know that in addition to reading with fluency, that good readers need to understand what they read? When you understand the message of the text you read, that is called comprehension. (write word on the board so that they can see it) So, when we comprehend something, that is another way of saying that we understand it. A good way to ensure that you understand the text that you read is by making a summary of the message. Today we are going to be learning about how to make those summaries. Can anyone tell me what it means to make a summary? (call on different students to share their answers) Right! It means to read a piece of writing and to give the main ideas of the text.

2. Say, “Now we are going to talk about some rules that we need to use to help us when we are writing summaries. First, we need to delete any unimportant information, second, we need to read through and delete any repeated information , thirdly, we need to replaces lists of items with easier terms, and select or invent a topic sentence with which to begin our summary. We are going to practice with theses rules by reading different paragraphs together and then, you are going to practice on your own with a book about sea turtles.”

3.  Say, “Before we begin to summarize, let’s talk about the word curator. Say it with me- ‘Curator.’ Good job! This word is in the first paragraph that we are going to read together and I want to make sure that we all know what it means. A curator is a person who oversees certain activities or a person who takes care of things in a museum or library. He makes sure that everything is taken care of and runs smoothly. Which one of these sounds more like a curator? A librarian or a student? A tour guide or a guest? Great! Now, just to be sure—someone tell me what a curator is again…(possible answers—someone who takes care of the library or museum, someone who is in charge of activities.)

4. Say, “Okay, now we are going to look at a paragraph together. I will put it on the board so that everyone can see it as we read along together. (put paragraph on board) As I am reading this passage, I am going to model how to cross out unimportant details, underline important details and pick out a nice topic sentence. Make sure you pay close attention so that you will know what to do when it is your turn to do this!” 


 Andrew Zolli studies trends to understand what could happen in the future. He looks at culture, technology, and society and uses the information to help companies and institutions respond to change. He founded a company, Z-Partners, and is also the curator of the PopTech conference, a meeting of leaders that explores the impact of technology and the shape of things to come.

I underlined Andrew Zolli because I know that is important because it is someone’s name. I also underlined studies trends because that is Andrew’s job. I crossed out the list of things that he looks at because I can just use the word trends instead, because I know that culture, technology, and society are all included with the trends he studies. I underlined the last part of that sentence ‘uses the information to help’ and ‘respond to change’ but I replaced ‘companies and institutions’ with ‘people’ because that will be easier for a reader to understand and remember. I crossed out the rest of the paragraph because I don’t think it is necessary for the summary. It gives names of groups that Andrew works for, but it doesn’t sound like it is necessary.So, now, I think I have a summary! 

Summary: Andrew Zolli studies trends and uses that information to help people respond to change.


4. Say,  “Let's try summarizing a paragraph together. I am going to put up another paragraph and this time, I want you to tell me what information to underline, cross out, or replace.” (put paragraph on board)


The mountain lion used to be found all over the United States, but now is primarily seen in the western U.S. An endangered subspecies of mountain lion also remains in Florida. These felines are comfortable in many different habitats and, aside from humans, have the widest geographic range of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. 

What is the main idea? What things do I need to underline? (allow students to answer)

What can I cross out?

Do I need to replace any words?(allow students to answer)

Summary: The mountain lion lives primarily in the western U.S. They are comfortable in many different habitats.

5. Say, “Okay, now that you have gotten to practice with some different paragraphs, it’s time for you to try some on your own! (Pass out National Geographic Readers: Sea Turtles to each child as well as the Summary checklists.) In this book, you will read all about sea turtles and how they swim in the ocean and lay their eggs on the beach! This book is split up into sections. After each section, I would like you to use the checklists that I have given you to help you summarize each section. Remember out summarizing rules! When you are done, talk with a friend next to you and review each other’s work. I will be walking around and checking your progress as you work!

Assessment: To assess students understanding of summarizing I will take up their checklists and summary to see who needs further help. I will call students to my desk if they appear to need more practice with summarizing. 

I will also ask the students the following comprehension questions:

-What was the main idea in the book Sea Turtles? 

-Where did the sea turtles lay their eggs and why do you think they lay them there?

-Where do the sea turtles live?


Mountain Lions: National Geographic Kids. 


Meet Andrew Zolli: National Geographic Kids. http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/explorers/meet-andrew-zolli/  

National Geographic Readers: Sea Turtles. :National Geographic Kids.  http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/ngs/product/national-geographic-kids-readers/animals/national-geographic-readers%3A-sea-turtles 

Pugh, Kelsey http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/doorways/Pughkrl.htm 

Example of checklist: 

Did the student...                                YES                                     NO

Delete unimportant things?

Organize items with a big idea?

Select a topic?

Write a topic statement that covers

everything that is important from

the passage of the text?

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