Super Summarizers!

Reading to Learn

Leigh Wagner




Rationale: Once students have become fluent readers, it is important to work on comprehension and the next goal: reading to learn. Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading because we use reading everyday and to advance in other subjects. Summarization is one strategy that helps us determine what information is important and worth remembering from whatever text we read. The purpose of this lesson is to teach students how to summarize using effective steps and asking themselves questions throughout their reading. Students will use the following steps to summarize: crossing out unimportant information, highlighting the most important information to reduce the text, and creating a topic sentence.




Procedure: 1. Say: Today we are going to learn a new strategy, or tool, that will help make us better readers! Raising your hand, can anyone tell me why we read? [allow time for answers] Yes, we read to hear stories, but why else do we read? [allow time for answers] Yes! We read so we can learn new things. In order for us to learn from what we read, we have to understand what we read. Does anyone know what it is called to understand what you read? [give students time to think] Understanding what we read is called comprehension. [write the word where students can see to help build vocabulary]


2. Say: One way we help ourselves comprehend what we reading is by using the summarizing strategy. Does anyone know what it means to summarize? Summarizing is picking out the most important information from a text. That means that we "delete" information that is not necessary. Today, I am going to teach you some steps and tips for summarizing. We will practice summarizing together and then you are going to try it on your own. We are going to become super summarizers!


3. Say: The first step to summarizing is getting rid of the information that isn't important. The best way for us to delete the unimportant information is to cross it out as we read. We are only going to cross out information while we practice. We don't write or highlight in our books. So as you read, decide if what you are reading is important and if it isn't, cross it out. After we have read through one time and crossed out information, we can move on to the next step. We need to reread what we didn't cross out in order to check our work. If we find more things that aren't important, we will delete them. If not, we can highlight all the information we kept so we can see the reduced text. The third step is to come up with a topic sentence. A topic sentence is a statement that covers the whole text.


4. Say: Those are the steps for the summarizing strategy. Does anyone have any questions about deleting unimportant information? Are there any questions about making the text smaller and highlighting the text? Are there any questions about making a topic sentence?


5. Say: Now that we know the steps for summarizing, we need to practice using them so we can be even better readers. [Write the steps on the board, documentation camera, or projector] Here are the steps so you can remember them. [Pass out the Crabs Clean Up article] We are going to read this crab article and follow the three steps to summarize as a class.


6. Introduce the article. Say: This article is titled Crabs Clean Up. The article is about what trapeziid crabs do to help coral reefs keep clean. The article discusses the problems that come about if the crabs don't clean the reefs. What do the crabs do to help the coral reefs? What do the coral reefs do to help the crabs? What would happen if the crabs didn't clean up? We will have to read to find out. Our vocabulary for this article is sediment and symbiotic. Does anyone know what sediment is? [allow time for guesses] Ok good guesses! Sediment is particles of dirt. Does anyone want to give symbiotic a try? Symbiotic is a relationships where all sides benefit. That means that they help each other out.


7. Say: We are going to start by reading the article. Put all pencils and highlighters in your desk, you don't need them yet. [put the article on the documentation camera and read through the article] How could we summarize the first section? I am going to read the first paragraph out loud and I want you to follow along on your paper. [Model after reading: Go through and stop after every sentence to determine whether or not the information is important as a class. Cross out information that isn't important. When you are done crossing out, highlight what words are important.]


            "Researchers have discovered that tiny crabs about a third of an inch (one centimeter) long take care of a huge job. They actually help keep coral reefs alive. And that's important, because more than nine million species depend on coral reefs around the world for food and shelter. These tiny crabs, called trapeziid crabs, accomplish a lot despite their size. Particles of dirt, or sediment, are bad for living coral."


8. Say: Good job picking out the important information. Now we can try to come up with a summary for this paragraph. What is the next step? Yes! We need to come up with a topic sentence. Let's see who can come up with a topic sentence. Raise your hand to answer. [take a couple of answers and combine them to make the best answer] Good! Trapeziid crabs help keep coral reefs alive by cleaning sediment on the coral. Now we can add the rest of the important information to our summary. Would anyone like to try? Great! Many species depend on coral reefs for food and shelter. Trapeziid crabs are only one centimeter long, but they protect many species from losing their coral reef homes. Let's write our summary down on our paper. [write sentences on the board]


Assessment: 1. Say: Now it is your turn. Read and summarize the rest of the article. Use your Summarization Tips bookmark if you need help. Let's review the steps before you get started. What do you do first? Yes! Read through and delete, or cross out, the unimportant information. What next? Yes. Find the important facts and highlight them. What is the last step? Good. Make a topic sentence for your summary. Remember to cross out with your pencil, not your highlighter. The highlighter is for the information you want to keep. After you have finished all three steps, fill in the rest of the important information to finish your summary. It should be at least 4 sentences. [use the assessment checklist as a guide for grading] When you are done, turn in your summary and your marked up article. 


2. As students begin to finish, have them come up to your desk one at a time to read their summaries. Use the checklist as they read it to you. Have a mini conference to discuss what they did well and what needs improvement.


3. Informal assessment: ask students the questions about summarizing. Say: What does summarizing mean? What are the summarization steps? Why do we summarize?


4. Do comprehension questions (below) orally as a class.


Comprehension Questions:


  1. What size are the Trapeziid crabs? (right there)
  2. What point did the author make in this article? (putting it together)
  3. What do so many species use the coral reefs for and why do you think they do that? (writer and me)




Summarization Tips




  1. Cross out unimportant details.
  2. Highlight important details to reduce the text.
  3. Create a topic sentence.



Assessment Checklist:


Student's Name:




YES         NO

_____   ______ Crossed out unnecessary information

_____   ______ Highlighted only the most important information

_____   ______ Wrote a valid topic sentence

_____   ______ Demonstrated an understanding of the article





Campbell, Magen. SUMthing Super.


Animation Source:


Crabs Clean Up Article. National Geographic Kids. Catherine Clarke Fox.


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