Summing Up The Buzz

Summing Up the Buzz

Reading to Learn Design

Carly Woods


Partnership Link (link to other lesson designs)


    The ultimate goal of reading is comprehension, and students at this level are ready to take on this challenging goal. This lesson introduces students to a helpful strategy known as summarization, which will help them read to learn and understand. Students will learn to delete trivial information and redundant information in an article about the mystery of bees.



·      Class set of the article "Honeybee Mystery" by Kids National Geographic

·      Poster with the rules of summarization written on it

·      Assessment chart for each student (for teacher use)

·      Colored marker for each student

·      Lined paper for each student

·      Projector


1.       Teacher says: "Who has ever read an article or a book, and told a friend about what you read? Do you read them the whole book, or do you just tell them the important parts of what you read? (Call on student). Yes! You only tell them important parts of the story! This is called giving them a summary of the book or article. Summarization is a helpful strategy good readers use to help comprehend or understand what you are reading. If you can summarize a book or article, it is a good indication that you are able to understand what you’ve read."

2.        Before we begin to practice summarization some more, let's review what we have learned about bees so far this week. Let's review our vocabulary words. Yesterday we said that there are different roles inside of a “bee family.” What were some of the roles? (call on student.) Yes! The queen bee, the male drones, and the worker bees all have very important jobs inside of a bee hierarchy. Earlier this week we talked about the specific jobs that bees have. Who can tell me how other worker bees take care of the queen bee? (Call on student). Very good, they act as a nurse, they attend to the queen and her needs, they clean the hive, they clean other bees, and they attend to other important duties around the hive. Do you think it would be easy to live like a bee? I don’t think so! It would be a lot of work, especially if you worked for the queen.  

3.       You all are doing so great! Keep it up! Now, let's talk more about summarization. Everybody take out a marker and a sheet of paper. Turn your paper horizontal, like a hot dog, and divide it into three different columns. Okay, now let's look at our "Rules of Summarizing" poster. Who can read me what the first rule of summarizing is? (Call on student). Yes, the first rule of summarizing is to delete the trivia, or unimportant information. We don’t want to keep any repeated information. Everybody write this rule at the top of the first column on your piece of paper. It can be very helpful to cross out important information if you can mark on the article you are reading, but you are reading in a book you will probably have to make a mental note that certain parts may not be as important as others. This will help you to understand the message the author is trying to tell you. Let's look at the second rule. The second rule is to find the important information. Everybody write this rule at the top of the second column. When you find something that is important in the book or article you are reading, underline or highlight the sentence so that you can go back and remember that it must be important. The final rule of summarization is to make a topic sentence. Everybody write this rule at the top of the third column on your paper. Making a topic sentence can be very challenging because most texts don't have topic sentences incorporated. A topic sentence combines all of the important information in a short, condensed way so that you are able to  summarize and comprehend the paragraph you read.

 4.     Teacher says: "Now we are going to practice summarizing with an article called "Honey Bee Mystery". Do you normally notice a lot of bees this time of year? I sure do! According to this mystery article, they are disappearing, and we don’t know why! Let's read more to find out! Let's look at the first paragraph of the article together:

"All across the United States, honeybees are flying away from their hives and dying. Empty hives are causing a lot of worry about some important food crops. Bees give us a lot more than delicious honey. They are pollinators—they enable plants to produce the fruits and nuts we enjoy by carrying pollen from one plant or flower to the next. The wind pollinates oats, corn, and wheat, but many other plants (like apple and cherry trees and melon vines) depend on insects, bats, and birds."

 5.     Everybody watch me as I use my rules to summarize this paragraph. (Pull out a pre-made copy of the 3 columns on paper). Let's look at the first sentence: “All across the United States, honeybees are flying away from their hives and dying.” Do we think it is important that these are honeybees are dying all around the United States? I would say no, so I am going to write this under the first column on my paper and cross it out. However, I do think that sentence number two is important. It explains what the whole paragraph is going to talk to us about. I am going to write sentence number two under my second column of important information. I notice that the second and third sentence talk about things that bees are good for, and I think that is redundant and can be reduced down, so I’m going to write this down in my first column. Let's look at the next part- The wind pollinates oats, corn, and wheat, but many other plants (like apple and cherry trees and melon vines) depend on insects, bats, and birds." Okay, I see some repeated information here. I think the important thing to know is that the wind pollinates some types of grown food, but other plants depend on other animals for pollination. I am going to write this information in my 2nd column for important information. To summarize we cannot name all of the specifics all the time, or we would have too much information. I am going to mark an X over the rest of the information and write it in my first column because I don’t think it is important.  

 6.      Now that we have finished the first paragraph let's try and see if we can come up with a topic sentence. Remember, a topic sentence is one sentence that explains what the whole paragraph is talking about. I am going to look at the parts I have in my column 2 for the important information I wrote down. Look at your second column to see what important information that we wrote down. I have that Empty hives are causing a lot of worry about some important food crops. The wind pollinates oats, corn, and wheat, but many other plants (like apple and cherry trees and melon vines) depend on insects, bats, and birds." I would make this a topic sentence by saying: Empty beehives are causing a lot of worry for crops’ existence, because not all crops are pollinated by the wind, many are pollinated by insects, including bees. Now I have all my important information in one sentence, and this is a summary of the paragraph I was reading. Does anybody have any questions?

 7.     Now, I am going to let you summarize each of the remaining paragraphs. Remember to use your paper with the columns to help you break up the information. You can also look at our summarizing poster as well if you need help! Come up with one topic sentence for each paragraph. When you are finished, I want you to staple the article to your paper with your columns, and turn it in to me.

 8.      Assessment: I will review each student's column chart to determine if they could successfully summarize the different paragraphs. I will use the assessment checklist to record each child's grade. Topic sentences may vary slightly, but I will be looking to see if they child included the important information in each.

Comprehension Questions:

1. Other than honey, what do bees give us?

2. Why are bees so hard to study?

3. What are researchers saying about the decline of bee health?

Assessment Checklist:

Student Name: ___________________________

 1. Did the student fill out the chart on his/her paper?                                

2.Did the students come up with topic sentences for the remaining paragraphs?

3.Did the student successfully delete unimportant/redundant information?

4.Did the student successfully identify important parts?

5.Did the student use the important information to come up with topic sentence?



1.     National Geographic, "HoneyBee Mystery

2. Summing Up What Matters: Katie Price