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Reading to Learn

Don’t Sweat about Summarizing!

Reading to Learn Lesson Design

By Holland Brown




When a student becomes fluent with his or her readings, he or she can focus more on comprehension rather than decoding. Because comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, this is a necessary skill. Readers can improve their comprehension by learning strategies (such as summarization) that will help them learn from the text. It is important for teachers to teach summarization so that students become independent readers of comprehension. Summarization allows students to pick out the main points in a text and disregard the small details. This lesson is designed to engage young readers in practicing summarizing by recognizing the main ideas from a text.






            Summarization Checklist (for students)

            Summarization Checklist (for teachers)

            “Don’t Sweat It: You’re Covered” Article (1 copy for each student)




1. Introduction: Everyone can read texts fluently. So, we are now going to practice reading to learn new information. One strategy that helps us with this is summarization.

Does anyone know what summarization is? Turn and talk with your partners about what you think it means to summarize a text. Allow students to turn and talk with their partners.

When we summarize, we pick out the main ideas or important details from what we read. We make memorable sentences about this information. Today, we are going to practice summarizing by reading a science article about why and how we sweat.


2. Background Information: Before we read our article, let’s go over a few words we may not have seen before. Write words on the board as they are gone over with the class.

The first word is “gland” a gland is a group of cells in our body that produce a particular chemical. We have several glands in our bodies, but today we are going to focus on the sweat gland.

The next two words that may be unfamiliar are “evaporation” and “electrolytes” I’m not going to go over these words too much, because the article will explain to you more what these words mean. But pay extra close attention to these words.

The last word we are going to look at is “hydrated”. Being hydrated means that you drink enough water to keep your body healthy.


3. Pass out one copy of the article to each student.

            Now let’s look at this article together. I want everyone to read the article all the way through with your reading partner. Then we will summarize the article together as a class. Allow students to read the article with their reading partner.

            Let’s look at the first part of this article and summarize it together. We will start with the first few sentences. Think about when you sweat. After running around at recess?....In each of these cases, your body is trying to get cooler. So looking at this first paragraph, I see one very important sentence. So I am going to cross out the other sentences that are not important. That leaves me with In each of these cases, your body is trying to get cooler. I am going to underline this sentence, because I know that it is important. Does everyone see how I crossed out the parts that were not as important and underlined the part that was important? So from this sentence, we already learned that our bodies sweat because they are trying to cool down.

            Now let’s look at the next paragraph in this first part: When you are hot, you sweat. Your body makes sweat inside tiny coiled tubes buried in your skin, called sweat glands. The average person has over 2 million of them!...As it dries, it carries away some of the extra heat from your body. This process is known as evaporation.

            There was a lot of information in that one paragraph! So to make it easier on us, we are going to summarize it by crossing out the parts that are not as important and underline the parts that are. Who can tell me what we should cut out?

            Allow students to take turns helping cross out the extra sentences.


4. Pass out the Summarizing Checklist for students.

Continue working on summarizing with your reading partners. Go through each paragraph like we just did together and cross out the parts that are not as important and underline the parts that are important. When you are finished, use the checklist that I am passing out to help guide you in writing a summary of the article using the parts that are not crossed out.




Use the student’s use of the Summarization Checklist as well as the articles that they wrote one to analyze student’s understanding of how to summarize. Ask the students to respond to the following reading comprehension questions while recording their answers on the Summarization Checklist for teachers:

Why do we sweat?

What are electrolytes?

What can you do to stay healthy while you’re sweating?





Summarization Checklist for students

Did I…

_____ write my topic sentence?

_____ find supporting details to help answer the question?

_____ remove unimportant information by crossing it out?

_____ remove repeated ideas?

_____ create a 3-5 sentence summary?


Summarization Checklist for teacher


Did the student...



Cross out unimportant details?



Circle important details?



Generate “umbrella” term?



Generate a topic sentence?



Comprehend the story?





            Article by American Chemical Society:


            Copyright 2008


            Karl, Faith. Super Sweet Summarization



            Sykes, Abby. It’s a Starry Summarization!