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Reading to Learn Lesson

Summarizing Superstars

Lauren Tolleson



Rationale: The ultimate goal of reading is comprehension. Comprehension is important because the reader must be able to get the message from the text and understand the message. Summarization is one of the most important strategies involved in reading comprehension. When students are summarizing they are highlighting important facts and deleting the trivial facts throughout the passage in order to identify the main idea. This lesson will help students gain the skills to be able to summarize a passage. Students will use a set of summarization rules to help them learn this skill: choose a topic sentence, cross out unimportant details or repeated ideas, and highlight important ideas and put into one sentence.



-Pencils (one per student)

-Printer Paper (1 piece per student)

-Copy of “Giant Jelly Fish Invasion” (one per student and one to display on the document camera)

-Document Camera


-Rubric for grading students’ summaries

-Scissors for each student

-One highlighter for each student  

-One piece of lined paper for each student



1.     The teacher will say, “When we read, it is important that we understand what we have read. One way to help us understand what we read is called summarizing. Summarizing is finding the main idea of a passage. This skill is very important because it helps us as readers to find the most important information about what we are reading. So how do we find the most important information to put in a summary? We highlight, underline, or just identify the most important information in a passage. We also cross out any information that isn’t important. Today we are going to be reading a really fun story to practice finding the main idea, important details that support that idea, and removing any insignificant or unnecessary information.”

2.     Hand out one sheet of printer paper to each student to make a foldable for the steps of summarizing.

The teacher will say, “First, you are each going to make your own foldable that will list the steps of summarizing. I want you to keep this foldable in your reading folder. It will be a great tool to help you if you forget any of these important steps. The foldable will have three sections, one for each of the three steps of summarizing. Fold your paper hot-dog style. Now, take your pencil and divide the paper into three sections. Then, open the paper and cut on the first line starting at the left side of the paper. Do not cut all the way across, though. Only cut until the middle crease you made. Continue this process for the next two sections.”

3.     The teacher will then explain the three important steps of summarization:

·      The teacher will say, “Now I am going to explain the steps to summarizing. I will write what you need to put on your foldable on the SmartBoard. Label the first flap of your foldable ‘ important details’  (the teacher will need to write that on the board for the students to see). When you pick out important details of what you are reading, you decide what the big ideas are and underline them if you can mark on what you are reading. If you cannot mark on what you are reading, remember or make a note of them on another sheet of paper. So, open the inside of your foldable and copy what I am writing, ‘I pick out the big important details of what I am reading and highlight them if I can. If I cannot highlight them, then I can make notes on another sheet of paper.’

·      The next step of summarizing is finding any details that are repetitive or that aren’t important to the big idea of the passage. You can cross out these details if you can write on what you are reading. So, label the next flap of your foldable “Unimportant details”. Now open your foldable and copy what I am writing, ‘When I am reading, I will find the unimportant details or details that repeat several times and cross them out if I can write on what I am reading. If I cannot write on it, I will make a note on a separate sheet of paper’

·      The last step of summarizing is organizing the important information that you have selected and make sure that the details support the main idea of the passage. This can be a little confusing, but don’t worry; you will understand what I mean when we start reading. So label the last flap of your foldable ‘organize important information’. Now copy what I am writing on the board, ‘after I have decided what is important and what is not important in a passage, I will organize my important information. I will make sure that the details I have picked match the main idea.’

·      Now turn your foldable on the back so that we can write important things to remember about summaries. I will write on the SmartBoard what you need to write on you paper. The first thing we need to remember about summaries is that they should be much shorter than the passage you are reading! A summary can be 3-5 sentences. On your paper copy this sentence, ‘Summaries do not have to long. 3-5 good sentences will do!’ The next thing to remember is that you want to have a good topic sentence. A topic sentence is one single sentence that states the main idea of the passage that you read. On your paper copy this sentence. ‘In my summary I need to have one good sentence that states the main idea of what I read.’”

4.     The teacher will need to pass about the article “Giant Jellyfish Invasion.” The teacher will say, “This article is about huge jellyfish that are causing a lot of problems in the Sea of Japan. How large are these jellyfish? What kind of problems are they causing? Why do you think all of these jellyfish are coming to the Sea of Japan? We are going to read to find out! Before we read, we have a new vocabulary word: Supersize. Can anybody guess what the word supersize means? (Allow students to discuss what they think the word means). Those were some great guesses!

-The word supersize means something that is larger than normal.

-A supersize item must be very big. It would not be small like an ant or mosquito.

-Which of these items would be supersized? An elephant or a mouse? A large Milkshake or a small one?

-Now listen to this sentence, ‘I was very hungry when I ordered my French fries and hamburger so I ordered _______’. Based on the sentence, what word do you think fills in the blank? That’s right, supersize.”


    5.  The teacher will need a copy of the article to display on the Document Camera. The teacher will say, “Now we are going to start reading the passage. We are going to read the entire article together so don’t start writing on the article just yet.” (Read the article to the students while having them finger track and read silently). After reading the paragraph the teacher will say, “Now that we have read the passage, let’s think about how we could summarize the first paragraph. I am going to reread the first paragraph and I want you to follow along. Watch how I cross out information that is not important and highlight information that is important.”


Are aliens attacking the Sea of Japan? Not exactly. But these gigantic blobs are unwelcome visitors from another place. Called Nomura's jellyfish, the wiggly, pinkish giants can weigh up to 450 pounds (204 kilograms)--as heavy as a male lion--and they're swarming by the millions.   


6. The teacher will say, “Now that we have decided what information is and isn’t important, let’s summarize the first paragraph. Does anybody remember what we need to do now that we have marked out and highlighted information? That’s right, we need to come up with a topic sentence. Can anybody tell me a good topic sentence? Nomura’s jellyfish are attacking the Sea of Japan. That’s a great topic sentence! Now we need to add one more sentence with details that we highlighted. Could anybody give me a sentence with some details? The jellyfish weigh up to 450 pounds and are swarming by the millions. That’s a great sentence!”


7. The teacher will need to give each student a highlighter and a piece of lined paper. The teacher will say, “Now it is your turn to summarize the rest of the article. I want you to reread the remaining paragraphs and write one summary about them. Remember as you reread cross out information that is not important and highlight information that is important. Then, pick out one topic sentence for the remaining paragraphs. The last thing you should do is use the details that you highlighted to support your topic sentence. Your summary should be 4-5 good sentences. I will be walking around if you need help. Also, remember to use your foldable to remind you of the steps.”


8. The teacher should assess the students’ summary by using the assessment checklist.

9. The teacher should call students who have completed their summarizations to her desk. The student should read their summaries to the teacher while she goes over the summarization checklist. Then, the teacher should explain the checklist and discuss any points that the student could improve on.


10. To conclude the lesson, the teacher should ask the students the following questions: What does it mean to summarize? Can someone tell me the summarization rules? Why is it so important to summarize?


Assessment checklist:



In his/her summary, did the student…..



Did the student pick out the most important information?



Did the student delete unnecessary information?



Did the student fully understand the information from the article?



Did the student write a strong topic sentence?



Did the student write strong sentences summarizing the important parts of the text?







National Geographic “Giant Jellyfish Invasion”




Mattie Magill’s Ready Set Summarize Lesson Plan



Star Clip Art 


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