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booming into summarization

A Reading to Learn Design by Kathleen McGahan


Rationale: After students have learned how to read both accurately and fluently, children should then begin to read to learn.  The goal of reading for learning is that the child is able to fully read a text and then understand what he or she is reading.  This lesson introduces students to the strategy of summarization.  When students learn to delete trivial and redundant information in a text, they will be able to remember the important information in the end. By learning to summarize a text, students will understand what they are reading better and thus enjoy reading.



 1. Copy of the article “Giant Panda Baby Boom” for each student from National Geographic Kids

2. Dry Erase board and markers

3. Assessment checklist for each student (teacher use)

4. Colored marker for each child

5. Lined paper for each child

6. Pencil



1. Teacher says, “Have any of you read a story or a text, and when you finished it either your parents or a friend asked you what it was about? When you answered them, did you reread the whole thing to them, or did you just tell them the important parts?” (Students should answer important parts) “That’s correct, you leave out the unimportant details and focus on only that which is vital.  This is called a summary! When you summarize something that you read, you shorten the text that you read to show that you comprehend the text and understand the important parts of what you read.”


2. This week we have been talking about the animals and how some species are endangered. Who can remind me what endangered means? (At risk of becoming extinct) “That’s right! Today we are going to talk about a species that has been endangered for a long time, the giant panda! Giant pandas are among the most rare mammals in the world, and fortunately many conservation groups are working to increase the giant panda population.” 


3. “Now that we’ve reviewed our topic, let’s talk more about summarization.   I need for every one to take out a marker and a sheet of lined paper.  We’re going to turn our paper horizontal, and then we are going to fold the paper twice, so that it has three sections.” (The teacher should demonstrate this.) “Now let’s talk about the three rules of summarization. Our first rule, which you should write in the left column, is ‘delete unimportant information or anything that is repeated information.’ (Write this on the board.)  When you delete or cross out the unimportant information or repeated information, it will help you understand what the author is trying to tell you.  Our second rule, which you will write in the second column, says that ‘it is important to find the important information.’  (Write this on the board.)  When you’re reading a text, it is helpful to underline sentences that help you remember the important things.  The third rule of summarizing is to ‘make a topic sentence.’ (Write this on the board.)  Writing topic sentences can be difficult because most of the texts that we read do not have topic sentences.  These topic sentences combine all the important information from the story or text in a sentence to summarize the passage that you have read.”


4. Now pass out copies of the article “Giant Panda Baby Boom” from National Geographic Kids. Then draw a basic web graphic organizer on the board. “What do you want to find out about giant pandas?  When you think of panda bears what do you think of?” (Based on student answers, fill out one side of the graphic organizer).  “Let’s read to find out more about giant pandas!”


5. Teacher says, “Now we are going to practice summarizing with this article.  Let’s take a look at the first paragraph together.  It says, ‘If Su Lin the giant panda had thrown herself a one-year-old birthday party, she’d have had a lot of panda friends to play with. That’s because she is one of 19 captive pandas to turn a year old in 2006.’ Can anyone tell me what the very important information from this passage is? (Give the students a chance to answer). “Very good! I believe that it is important to know Sin Lu the giant panda is one of 19 captive pandas to turn a year old in 2006, so we are going to underline this part, and wright it under the second column.

I don’t think the first part of this sentence that says “she’d have a lot of panda friends to play with” is very important, so we are going to cross it out and write it under the first column. 

Our final step in summarizing is to create a topic sentence for this paragraph.  In order to do this we need to take the important information and combine it into one sentence.  So our important information is that Sin Lu is a giant panda cub and she is one of 19 captive pandas to turn a year old in 2006. If I were to write a topic sentence for this, it would say, ‘Sin Lu the giant panda is one of 19 captive pandas to turn a year old in 2006”.


6. Now that we know how to summarize, you are going to repeat this process for the remaining paragraphs.  When you have finished, your topic sentences should combine into a concise summary.  When you are done, please staple your article to your summary columns, and turn it in.”



  • The teacher will review each of the student’s summary charts to see if they are able to successfully summarize the paragraphs.  The teacher will use the checklist below in order to see if the child is completing the work satisfactorily. 

  • Write reading comprehension questions on the board for the students to answer on their own paper:

    • Where does Su Lin the giant panda live?

    • How many giant pandas are estimated to be living in China?

    • How many pandas live in captivity worldwide?

    • Who is working to keep the remaining panda population safe?



Did the student….



…delete trivial information from the passage?



…highlight vital information from the passage?



…compose a topic sentence and short summarization paragraph using main ideas and his or her own words?



…demonstrate comprehension of the passage through this paragraph summary?






Article: “Giant Panda Cubs Give Hope to an Endangered Species”. 


Lesson Design: Mitchell, Emily. “Saving the Summary”.



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