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Having a Whale of a good time with Summarization!

Taylor Medlock



Rationale: Summarization is a strategy to help readers focus on the most important parts of the text. This helps readers better comprehend what they read. An effective summarization strategy is called about-point. When using this method, two questions should be asked: 1) What is the text about? Usually, this is an easy question that helps identify the topic sentence. 2) What is the main point that the writer is making about the topic? This question can be a little more challenging. Often, several points are made; the reader must decide on the overall most important message of the text. The main point will become the predicate of the topic sentence.




Article about whales – National Geographic Kids

Pencil and paper for each student

Summarization checklist and comprehension quiz

Checklist for each student




1. Explain to children why summarization is an important skill to learn: “Whenever we read a text, we won’t be able to memorize every single word because there are just too many details. Good readers don’t try to remember every word; instead, they focus on summarizing the most important points that the author is trying to make about the topic. When we break large texts into smaller chunks, the main ideas become easier to remember.


2. The best way to summarize is to use the about-point method. You must ask yourself two questions. The first question, which is also the easiest, is “What is the text about?” The tough question is “What is the main point the writer is making about that topic?” To answer this question, you have to think of a way to summarize all of the important points in the text. Once you form your answers, you can use them to create a topic sentence.


3. In a few minutes, I am going to model how I would do the about-point method with a paragraph on whales, which is what your article is about today. Have you ever seen a whale? How much do they weigh? What do they eat? These are just a few of the questions that you will learn how to answer.


4. Let’s talk about an important vocabulary word that you’ll be reading: Endangered. Endangered is a word that means that a group of animals is close to being all gone or extinct. Cats would not be endangered, but whales would be. For example, “The blue whales are endangered because they are hunted.” Which one of these would be endangered? A rare bird being hunted all over the world or cats in our house?  Finish this sentence: An animal that is _______ could be  endangered. (answers: hunted, almost gone)


5. Here is a paragraph from the story:


 “The blue whale is the largest mammal in the world. A blue whale calf weighs two tons (1,814 kilograms) at birth and gains an extra 200 pounds (91 kilograms) each day of its first year.”


This paragraph is about the size of whales when they are young, but what important point is the writer making? Baby whales grow a lot. Even though they are already big when they are born, they continue to grow an extra 200 pounds a day their first year of life! If I put these points together, I can create a topic sentence: Even though whales are pretty big when they are born, they continue to grow a lot during their first year.


6. Now it’s your turn! I’d like you to finish reading the article and use about-point to make a topic sentence for each paragraph. When you are finished, you should have a good summary of the article. This will help you remember the important facts about whales. Remember, we shouldn’t summarize examples or trivia; these are only written to help you understand the main ideas. Your job is to write a short version of the article by summarizing in your own words. After everyone finishes, we will have a quiz to check for our understanding.



Assessment: Collect each student’s summary of the article. Evaluate the responses using the following checklist:

                              _____ Collected important information

                              _____ Ignored trivia and examples in summary

                              _____ Text is significantly reduced from the original

                              _____ Sentences brought ideas together from each paragraph

                              _____ Sentences are organized coherently into paragraph 




1. Do whales continue to grow a lot after they are born?

2. What do whales eat?

3. Why are whales endangered?

4. About how many blue whales are left in the oceans?

5. How long do whales live?




National Geographic Kids- Blue Whale


Related Articles:

Growing Tall with Summarization, Audrey Blair

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