Summarization Safari!

Reading to Learn

by: Bess Findley



        Learning to read opens the door for students to begin to take in new information, and become better learners. Once students have mastered their basic reading skills they can use summarization to master how to learn from the texts they read. Summarization is a reading comprehension strategy that helps students succeed in nearly every academic area. This lesson provides explicit instruction and detailed steps to help students accomplish the goal of learning to summarize texts.




     2 colored highlighters for each student

     "Africa's Big and Little Five" article (copy for each student

     "Hooray for Hares" article (copy for each student)

     Summarization bookmarks for each student with a checklist on the back:

                Select a topic sentence

                Find important details

                Delete all unimportant information

                Delete all repeated information

                Write brief 3-5 sentence summary of text


     Grading checklist for each student (attached below)



        Introduce lesson: "Today we are going to learn an important new reading tool! We are going to learn how to summarize! Before we start, does anyone know what it means to summarize something?" (wait for student responses) "Yes! Great! Summarizing is finding the main idea of a story or anything we read. Summarizing is one of the most important reading tools because it helps us find and remember the most important parts of what we read by deleting any unimportant information. Our goal today is to learn how to find the main idea and any important details, and remove any information that is not important.

       Explain steps of summarizing: "There are three important steps to summarizing as you read. First, pick out all of the important details of the passage you are reading. Second, find details that are unimportant or repeated and cross them out. Lastly, organize the important parts, and find the main idea that summarizes the entire passage."

        Summarization bookmarks: (hand out a summarization book mark to each student) "This bookmark will be a very important tool to help you remember the steps of writing a summary. You need to keep this bookmark close to you as you read so that you can follow the steps of summarizing correctly each time. Now, let's look at the checklist on the back of the bookmark together. First, your summary will start with a topic sentence that describes the main idea of the text. Second, you will find important details that support your main idea. Third, you will make sure all unimportant information is left out of your summary. Fourth, you will double check to make sure nothing is repeated in your summary. Fifth, and lastly, you will check to make sure your summary is brief; only 3-5 sentences long.

        Articles: (hand out a copy of the Ranger Rick article "Africa's Big and Little Five" to each student) "This is the article that we are going to use to practice our new reading skill. It is about some of the awesome animals that are found in Africa! Before we read the article together there are a few new vocabulary words that we need to talk about. Who can tell me what the word "prey" means? If we look at first paragraph of the second section we can use the context clues to figure out what the unfamiliar word, "prey" means. The sentence says "Lions are master hunters-able to catch and kill large, speedy prey such as antelope." Hmmm? The sentence is talking about hunting and it gives an example of something that the lion kills at the end of the sentence, what do you think the word "prey" might mean?" (wait for student response) "Right! A lion's prey is something it kills to eat. There is one more word we need to discuss before we read the article, and the word is "rivals". A rival is something that is competing against something else. In this particular article, the "rivals" in the sentence at the end of the "Rhinoceros and Rhinoceros Beetle" section of the article are two animals fighting against each other. Both "prey" and "rivals" are words that have to do with animals fighting against each other, so what do you think this article could be about? Let's read and find out!"

        Read and model: (read the article aloud to the class) "Now that I have read the article to you I am going to walk you through the steps of summarizing so that you will know exactly what to do. Remember the three steps of summarizing: To start, I need to underline the important details in the passage, and mark out any unimportant details. To help decide what is important and unimportant there are some questions to ask yourself: What subject seems to be mentioned more than once? that is the topic of the passage, and it is important because it is was the passage is about. Next, ask yourself what the author trying to say about the topic? Look at the action and description words words to see if some of the words are alike, and see if the words can be categorized. Let's look at the first section of the article and I will show you what I do as I'm reading to summarize!"



African elephants are the largest land animals on earth, and their trunks are sized to match. But there's another African mammal with a super-long, super-useful nose: the elephant shrew.

Like an elephant's trunk, an elephant shrew's nose is flexible and can twist around to search for food. But for the elephant shrew, that food isn't an elephant treat such as tree bark or leaves. It's insects!

A full-grown elephant shrew is only about 6 inches long. Fourteen of them standing head-to-tail would be as long as an elephant's trunk!

First, I'm going to use a pink highlighter to highlight the things that are the same. I see the words "elephant" and "elephant shrew" the most, so I know the key words that tell what the article is about. Next I need to figure out what the author is saying about elephants and elephant shrews. To do this I will look for the verbs to see what point the author is trying to make. I will highlight these words in green. After highlighting these words in green, I can see that the author is comparing the two animals. Now that I have discovered what the article is about, the next step is to go back and cross out anything that is unimportant. Unimportant information includes descriptions, repeating information, extra trivia, and examples that take away from the main point of the passage." (model these steps for the students to see) "From the first section of this article, we have summarized that elephants and elephant shrews share a name because they share a physical feature; a long nose. Now I want you to try and do the next two sections on your own!"

(give students time to read and highlight the following two sections of the article as you walk around the room and observe them as they highlight important words, and cross own unnecessary information)

"Now that we have found the most important parts of the article, crossed out the unimportant parts, we are going to work together to develop a topic sentence for the entire article. Hmmm, well we know that each section of the article talks about two animals in Africa that share a name and a physical feature, so our topic sentence needs to be about that! My topic sentence could be: There are many familiar animals in Africa that share a name and some physical features with a very different, unfamiliar animal."

(continue writing the summary on the board with the students help
writing down the important parts that you underlined in the article, and leaving out any unimportant parts)

"Okay class, now that I have finished my summary, I need to look at the back of my handy bookmark, and check the summarization checklist to see if I have completed all of the steps! Did I write the topic sentence? Did I write details that support my topic sentence? Did I leave out all unimportant details? Did I make sure not to repeat anything in my summary? Is my summary brief? Awesome! See?! Summarizing helps you learn from the things you read!


         Student practice: (pass out a copy of the article "Hooray for Hares" to each student) "Now that you have watched and helped me summarize this article together, I want you to try to summarize another article on your own! This article a that I am passing out to you is called "Hooray for Hares". It is about the surprising difference between hares and rabbits! What do you think could be so different about two animals that seem so alike? You're going to have to read the article to find out! While you are reading don't forget the summarizing steps you should be taking, and when you have completed the article don't forget to check the back of your bookmark to make sure you can check off everything on the summarization checklist!"



         I will use the grading rubric below to assess the summaries that the students completed on their own. I will also be observing the children as they are completing their work to see if they seem to understand the new reading comprehension skill.



Student Name:__________________________

Summarization Grading Checklist

When summarizing, did the student:



Select an appropriate topic sentence?



Delete repeated information?



Delete unimportant information?



Organize items with a big idea?



Write a brief 3-5 sentence summary accurately summarizing the article?







                "Africa's Big and Little Five"

                "Hooray for Hares"

    Lesson Examples:

                "Summarization Invasion!" by Katherine Crum 


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