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Introduce: Summarizing Informational Texts

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Lesson Type: Introduce
Grade: 1, 2, 3
Group Size: whole class or small group
Length: 20-30 minutes

What to Do:

Materials needed:

  • Each student should have a copy of a short informational text or passage. The text should be appropriate for the grade level of students you are working with.


Objective/Purpose of the lesson

  • The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the reading strategy of summarizing informational text.
  • The teacher will use explicit instruction to introduce the strategy of summarizing informational text.
  • Students will learn what the strategy is, why it is useful, and how the strategy can be used in the future.
  • The teacher will model the strategy by using a think-aloud.
  • Students will read an informational text or part of a text and practice summarizing with support from the teacher.

Helpful teaching tips for this lesson

  • Begin teaching the summarizing strategy using a short informational selection or paragraph.
  • Think about whether or not the text you choose will be motivating and engaging for your the students.
  • Follow the steps for explicitly teaching a comprehension strategy:
  1. Explain what the strategy is and why it is useful
  2. Model or think aloud as you engage in the strategy’s use. You will need to do this multiple times
  3. Coach students as they engage in the strategy’s use - guided practice. Release responsibility to students as they get more able.
  4. Prompt students to use a strategy when is it appropriate to the task -provide independent practice
  5. Encourage flexible, independent use of strategies by having students use, and then discuss, strategies they used as needed at different points in time in their reading


  • Teacher states the what, why, when, and how of summarizing informational text:
Today we are going to learn how to summarize informational text. This is a comprehension strategy that will help us understand the main ideas, or most important ideas, that the author is trying to tell us. We want to remember and be able to use these important ideas in the future.
I’m going to show you what I do when I summarize the information in a paragraph. This is something you will do on your own to help you remember the most important ideas that the author is trying to tell you.


Teaching the comprehension strategy using a Think Aloud

  • Model how to read one paragraph or section of text at a time. Students should have a copy of the same text you are using to do the think aloud.
  • The think aloud is a way to show students what you do as you read to summarize informational text. You might do this by showing them how you think about what the paragraph or section is about as you are reading, how you decide what details (if any) are important to explain the main idea, and how you think about what the author is trying to tell you.
  • Be sure to explain to students how they can use this strategy when they read other informational books or books from other subject areas. Use an overhead, white board, chart paper, or graphic organizer to show students how you take notes on your own thinking as you model how to find the main idea.
  • After the teacher models/thinks aloud, students practice with a partner as the teacher coaches. It is important to give students time to practice while you provide support and scaffolding.


  • Students complete written summaries
  • Students discuss their written summaries with a partner or group of students.
  • Students pick out all pronouns in the passage


  • Remind students why we summarize, how it will help us, and how we can use this strategy when we read to better understand the main ideas the author is trying to tell us.

Possible next steps or extensions to this lesson

  • Do your students need this strategy modeled again?
  • Do your students need more time to practice this strategy with more support from you?
  • A lesson to model for students some examples of good and not so good summaries, those that concisely state the most important ideas and those that are too general or too specific.
  • A lesson to model how students can use the written summary as a study strategy (Taylor, 1995).

Professional learning community activity

  • Work on summarizing informational text with your students over several weeks and reflect on the lessons in a journal—bring these reflections to your PLC meeting to share and discuss with your colleagues.
  • Take a turn video taping yourself teaching this lesson. Choose a clip to share at a PLC meeting and ask your colleagues for feedback on that part of the lesson.
  • Bring copies of your student summaries to a PLC meeting to evaluate, discuss, and get suggestions from your colleagues about where to go next with your instruction.

Research that supports this lesson

Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., Kucan, L. (2002). "Bringing words to life. Robust vocabulary instruction." New York: Guilford,

Duffy, G. (2003). Explaining reading: A resource for teaching concepts, skills, and strategies. New York: Guilford.

Duke, N. K., & Benneett-Armistead, S. (2003). Reading and writing in the primary grades: Research-based practices. New York: Scholastic.

Nolte, R. Y., & Singer, H. (1985). Active comprehension: Teaching a process of reading comprehension and its effects on reading achievement. Reading Teacher, 39(1), 24-31.

Pressley, M. (2002). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching, second edition. New York: Guilford.

Stahl, K. A. D (2004). Proof, practice, and promise: Comprehension strategy instruction in the primary grades. The Reading Teacher, 57, 598-609.

Taylor, B. M., & Frye, B. J. (1992). Comprehension strategy instruction in the intermediate grades. Reading Research and Instruction, 32(1), 39-48.

Taylor, Harris, Pearson, and Garcia (1995). Reading Difficulties: Instruction and Assessment (2nd. ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

This lesson was created by:
Minnesota Center for Reading Research
Michelle Chein
Barbara M. Taylor