Reading to Learn

Shortening Sentences with Sloths!

By: Shea Brennaman

Reading to Learn

Rationale: To become successful readers, children must be able to comprehend the text that they read. To better their comprehension skills, students must learn to summarize. Summarizing means that students are able to explain the main points of something. This lesson will teach students how to summarize what they are reading and to learn how to decipher the meaning of what they have read. In this lesson students will read an article and then summarize the article by including the main ideas and leaving out unnecessary details.

Materials: “Saving Cute Baby Sloths” (National Geographic article), copies of article for each child, spare copy of sloth article for highlighting and marking, “Your Amazing Brain” (National Geographic article), spare copy of brain article for highlighting and marking, highlighter for each child, black markers, paper, pencil.


1. First I will explain to students what it means to summarize a text. "You create a shorter version of what you have read when you summarize a text. In order to do this you must take out any repeated or non-important information. For example, if I read a text such as I have a blue car. It is fast. I like to drive it. I would summarize that as I like to drive my fast blue car. Can you all see that I used only the important information to make a shorter sentence? For today’s lesson we will be summarizing texts the way I just did."

2. I will have students get out their copy of the text and read it silently. “Class, this is a fascinating article about baby sloths and how a team of rescuers save these cute creatures. Once you have finished reading, think over some of the important things you learned while reading this article.”

3. After the children have finished reading the article, I will pass out spare copies of the article and say "We are now going to summarize what we just finished reading. On your second copy of the text I just gave you I want you to highlight all the main ideas or pieces of information you feel are important." As a class we will discuss the facts that students find important. "Next, take your black marker and mark through all of the information that you do not think is important. This information is not going to be in our summary."

4. "Now that we have finished highlighting and marking, write what you have left on a blank piece of paper. Do not include the information you have marked out."

5. After all students are finished, pair students in groups of two and have them read their summaries to each other. Each group will present their summaries to the class and explain any similarities and/or differences between the summaries. Each student is encouraged to listen to this.


Assessment: In order to assess summarization skills I will pass out another passage for the children to read silently. This passage is another National Geographic article and it is titled “Your Amazing Brain.”  To show competency in summarization, students must include main ideas and leave out irrelevant information. Students will be given the article, a spare copy for them to highlight and mark on, a blank piece of paper, and a pencil. I will assess the summary they provide to me on the blank sheet of paper.



Eldredge, J. Lloyd. Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. Prentice Hall, Inc. Columbus, Ohio.1995. p.10-11.

Pressley, M. "Strategies That Improve Children's Memory and Comprehension of Text." The Elementary School Journal Volume 90, Number 1.

 “Saving Cute Baby Sloths.” National Geographic Kids.

“Your Amazing Brain.” National Geographic Kids.