Reading to Learn Lesson Design

Swimming Through Summarization

By: Carly Dumas

Rationale: Our goal for readers is to comprehend the information they are reading. One strategy that will help with comprehension is summarizing. Summarizing is a strategy reader’s use when identifying and recalling the main ideas in a text.  This lesson will provide students with the brief steps of summarization and allow students to put their knowledge of summarization into practice. This lesson will help students learn to summarize by teaching them to delete trivial and redundant information and focus on the important parts of a text. Students will practice their skills on short passages while using the summarization checklist.  


-Copies of Secret Language Of Dolphins

-Copies of Polar Bears Listed As Threatened

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

-Copies of 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 mammal. Mammals are warm-blooded animals with hair that feed their young with milk. Some mammals include humans, dogs, and elephants. Eben though they don’t live on land. Whales and dolphins are mammals too. 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, mammals such as cats and dogs drink … from their mothers when they are babies.  

Answer: milk

Another important word to look at is communication. To communicate means to share and exchange ideas.

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.”

In many ways, you are just like the more than 30 species of dolphins that swim in the world's oceans and rivers. Dolphins are mammals, like you are, and must swim to the surface to breathe air. Just as you might, they team up in pods, or groups, to accomplish tasks. And they're smart.

“I was sure to cross out any repeated or unimportant information.  I also underlined important information that we need to understand the text. Next 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, “In many way, you are just like the ..” This statement doesn’t teach us any new information about dolphins. I also crossed out a few filler words such as might and must. The last sentence in this text is unimportant and doesn't help us figure out what the text's meaning is.”

Summary: Dolphins are mammals that breathe air and swim in groups through oceans and rivers.

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!"

Dolphins also talk to each other. Starting from birth, dolphins squawk, whistle, click, and squeak. "Sometimes one dolphin will vocalize and then another will seem to answer," says Sara Waller, who studies bottlenose dolphins off the California coast. "And sometimes members of a pod vocalize in different patterns at the same time, much like many people chattering at a party." And just as you gesture and change facial expressions as you talk, dolphins communicate nonverbally through body postures, jaw claps, bubble blowing, and fin caresses. 

Topic: Dolphins talk and communicate with each other.

How? Dolphins verbally squawk, whistle, click, squeak while also making jaw claps, blowing bubbles, and moving their fins. 

Summary: Dolphins talk and communicate with one another by using different sounds, body postures, and movements.

5. "Today we will practice our summarizing skills when reading. We are going to be reading about why polar bears are going extinct. You will have to read and find out about why this is happening. 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 review each student's topic sentences as well as look over each article for proper markings.  I will use the below assessment checklist for each student to know whether each student followed the rules and understood how to summarize accordingly. After filling out the checklists I will also ask each student a series of comprehension questions as a reading comprehension check for the end of the lesson. The questions will include:

1.     What is the greatest threat to the polar bears?

2.     What is causing the sea ice to melt away?

3.     What types of things do polar bears do on the ice?

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?








 “Polar Bears Listed as Threatened”

Reading Genie Website; Hilary Goins- "Ready, Set, Summarize!"

 “Secret Language of Dolphins”

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