School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 2.0 Comprehension of Informational Text

Indicator 4. Determine important ideas and messages in informational texts

Objective g. Summarize the text or a portion of the text


Introduce summarizing by telling the students that this is a strategy that they use every day. To summarize is to put in your own words the important information or events in a shortened form. Model this by summarizing verbally a recent shared school event. Explain how you organized the information by starting at the beginning of the event and related only the important parts of the scenario. Explain to students the difference in retelling and summarizing. Retelling means telling every detail of the text, movie, incident, etc. Summarizing requires the person to think about the text, movie, incident, etc. and analyze it so that they are telling the most important ideas in their own words. Tell students that summarizing during and after reading informational text is a very helpful strategy. It helps readers to remember the most important information in the text.


Introduce the concept of summarizing with the 3-2-1 strategy in small group. Select an appropriately leveled informational text, such as Skunks by Elizabeth Russell-Arnot. Use a guided reading format to read p.2-5 of the text. Explain to students that it helps readers remember the important information in a text if they stop periodically and summarize it. Explain to them that one way to do this is with the 3-2-1 strategy. Explain that in order to use this strategy the reader reads a section of text and then goes back and rereads quickly in order to do the following 3 things: write, underline or mark with post-its 3 things that you discovered about the topic; write, underline or mark with post-its 2 interesting things about the topic; and write 1 question that you still have about the topic. The teacher can make a 3 column chart on the board like the one below:

Section of Text 3 things I discovered 2 interesting things 1 question I still have
p. 2-6
  1. skunks are nocturnal
  2. skunks eat insects, berries, and mice
  3. there are 4 types of skunks
  1. one type of skunk has spots instead of stripes
  2. skunks are immune to bee stings
Why do skunks smell so bad?
p. 8-11
  1. skunk babies drink their mother's milk for 7-8 weeks
  2. mother skunks teach their babies to hunt
  3. skunks sometimes dance before they hunt
  1. skunk babies are called kittens
  2. mothers keep their babies in a line when they teach them to hunt
Why do skunks smell so bad?

The teacher can use "think aloud" to model the thinking as she completes the first section of the chart. The teacher will give each student 3 yellow post-its and 2 blue post-its and will direct them to read p. 8-11 of the text. After reading they will mark 3 things they discovered with the yellow post-its and 2 interesting things with the blue post-its. The teacher can support the students during the reading and as the students mark with their post-its. Following the reading the teacher will encourage the students to share their responses. As a group the students will add 3 things they discovered and 2 interesting things to the chart started by the teacher. Finally, the group will pose a question that they still have. The procedure will be repeated for pages 12-15. After the last section is completed the teacher will model how to verbally summarize the information in the text using the chart. This process will be repeated with other informational texts. The teacher will gradually shift responsibility of completing the 3-2-1 chart to the students for independent completion.


For students who are ready to construct a written summary the teacher may follow this more structured lesson format. The teacher selects a text for the introductory lesson that has enough important ideas to summarize. One example could be the on-line text The Best-Dressed Astronaut available at This story (in book format) can be projected for whole class viewing. The teacher will conduct an initial shared reading of the entire displayed book. After the initial reading the teacher will reread page 1 of the text and explain that these sentences state the main idea of the entire text. The teacher will state that in summarizing we will take the main points worth remembering and state them in our own words. The teacher will write the main idea of the text at the top of a chart like the one picture below. The teacher will engage the children in rereading pages 2-7. The teacher will model the thinking involved in composing a main idea for this section of text by completing the first part of the chart below with the author's subtitle, listing text details and "thinking aloud" the main idea. The teacher will repeat the process with the remaining two sections of text and gradually releasing the responsibility to the students as he/she monitors.

Main Idea of Entire Text: Astronauts wear different clothes for different jobs.
Author's Subtitle Text Details Main Idea
Going Up and Coming Down! p. 2-7
  1. Wear this suit for launching & landing
  2. Bright orange so nicknamed "pumpkin suit"
  3. Advanced Crew Escape Suit
  4. Holds a lot of tools
  5. Smoke flare can signal if lost
  6. Lights, mirror, radio signal, parachute, life raft & other water tools
Astronauts wear a special suit for the launch and landing that is designed to help them if there is trouble.
On the Space Shuttle and International Space Station p. 8-11
  1. Shorts & T-shirts to exercise
  2. Short & long sleeves
  3. Velcro patches on pants & tools
  4. Velcro keeps tools from floating away
On board the space shuttle and space station, astronauts wear regular shirts and special pants with Velcro to hold their tools.
Out in Space p. 12-15
  1. Wear special suits that protect when they go out in space
  2. Wear special underwear under this suit
  3. Underwear is one-piece with long sleeves & legs
  4. Small tubes run through the suit to pump water that keeps them cool
  5. Snoopy cap under helmet has a built-in headphone & microphone for talking to each other and Mission Control
When astronauts are working outside of the shuttle they wear a protective suit that keeps them cool and allows them to communicate with each other and Mission Control.

Following the data collection on the organizer, the teacher will model the writing of a summary by combining the main ideas and any important details. An example of this teacher's modeled summary is below.

Astronauts wear different clothes for different jobs. During the launch and landing they wear a special suit that is designed to help them if there is trouble. It can help searchers locate them if they are lost and has many tools to help them survive. While they are on the space ship and in the shuttle they wear regular looking clothes. Some of their pants have Velcro so they can attach tools that might float away. When they work outside of the space ship, the astronauts wear a protective suit that keeps them cool and allows them to communicate with each other and mission control.

Students should discuss the amount of detail in the summary. Opportunities for students to make suggestions for additions or deletions of relevant details should be considered.