Reading to Learn Design

Summarization Sensation

I.                 Rationale

In order to become better readers, we must truly comprehend what we are reading.  One way to improve our comprehension is to learn how to summarize.  To summarize is to take all of the important details and main ideas out of a text and combine them in a way that explains the story to someone who has not read it.  This lesson helps students learn how to find those main ideas and key details in a text by having the teacher model summarization and then by summarizing themselves.

II.               Materials

·       Pencils

·       Paper

·       Highlighter

·       Sharpies (black)

·       Dry-erase board

·       Dry-erase markers

·       Passage example on SmartBoard (“Scientists Help Giant Pandas Raise Twins”)

·       Classroom copies of “Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species”

·       Classroom copies of “Gorilla Rescue”

·       Rubric for Summarization

III.              Procedures

1.     Say:  Today we are going to talk about summarization.  You tell me what you think summarization is.  That’s right!  Summarizing means taking a story that we’ve read and picking out all of the important things, like main ideas and really important details.  When you summarize, you are retelling the story or passage you have just read giving only the important details and main ideas that you found in it.  We leave out the details that are not as important.

2.     Say:  Do you know why summarization is important when we read?  Yes, it helps us to pick out all the important things in the story.  Have YOU ever summarized before?  If you have, you know that when you do, you are just going over the main ideas and key elements in the text.  When you’re summarizing, make sure that you only mention the important ideas and leave the small ones out of the story.  

3.     Say:  Now we are going to read a passage together on the SmartBoard.  You read it quietly to yourself and I will at the same time.  *Wait for students to finish reading* Okay, who can give me a brief summary of what you read? *Give different students a chance to give their summaries and assist as needed* You’ll notice on my copy of the story on the SmartBoard that I highlighted important details and crossed out details that were not important. 

4.     Say:  Now I am passing out another article about giant pandas.  It is a little different but you will still be reading about pandas.  I am also giving you a black Sharpie and a highlighter.  As you read, highlight details that you think are important and contribute to the main idea of the story.  And take the Sharpie that I have given you and cross out the details that you do not think are important.  When you’ve finished reading and marking the story, I want you to summarize it in 10 sentences or less.  Remember to only include main ideas and details.  Don’t include any of the details that you crossed out, only the ones that you have highlighted.  Write in complete sentences and use correct punctuation.  The most important thing is not to copy the text just like it is but put it in your own words.  *Allow 15-20 minutes for students to summarize*

5.     Say:  Now that you have all summarized the passage, I will call on some of you to give me main ideas.  Let’s see if we can find ten main ideas.  *Listen as students read their summaries and look for common main ideas and then write them on the board*

6.     Say:  We have now summarized two articles.  I’m passing out another one called “Gorilla Rescue.”  I want you to read it to yourself and summarize.  Who can tell me what you’re looking for when you summarize?  Great answers!  Yes, we’re looking for main ideas and important details.  And always be sure to include key words in the text.  When you’ve finished reading and summarizing, I will collect your papers.

IV.             Rubric

Student Name:

Did the student…



Read the article all the way through?

Pick out the most important information from the article based on methods used in class?

Delete trivial information?

Comprehend the information from the article?

Write a short paragraph summarizing the most important parts of the article read?






V.               References

“Gorilla Rescue” article

“Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species” article

“Scientist Help Giant Pandas Raise Twins” article

Casey, April “Five Step Summary” can be found on the Reading Genie website at:

Jones, Noelle “Summarizing is Easy as Pie can be found on the Reading Genie website at:

Panda Image: