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Overview of Determining Importance and Summarization Professional Development

Determining importance and summarizing is a complicated task for many readers. This professional development, presented by Catlin Goodrow, provides participants with instructional scaffolds that will help students comprehend informational text.  Included is an overview of the Cognitive Strategy Routine and demonstration lessons that can be used with students in grades 3-5. Participants are also provided text samples to plan lessons they can use at their campus.

Introduction/Why Should We Teach Determining Importance and Summarizing?

Final Reflection:

Reflect on the following questions:

Why is determining importance and summarizing important for students to learn? What challenges have you seen with this strategy?

Note: Remember, although we may highlight or focus on one strategy to make the strategy explicit, we need to ensure that our students know that strategies don’t happen in isolation. We use multiple strategies automatically and interchangeably; and usually, we use more than one at a time. We do not want to teach isolated strategies for very long at all. Michael Pressley (2000) tells us that, “Strategies are taught just a few at a time and students learn to coordinate multiple strategies as they read. Strategies instruction is long-term and woven through the content areas so students learn to apply appropriate strategies to comprehend a wide range of genres” (Isreal & Duffy, p. 512).

How Should We Teach Determining Importance and Summarizing? Cognitive Strategy Routine: Anchor Lesson (Step 1)

Look at Additional Handout 2 and decide how you might introduce/or anchor determining importance and summarizing for your students.

*Note: Step 1, the anchor lesson, is a stand-alone lesson and meant to be done once with students.  As you revisit or review determining importance and summarizing you can remind students of the anchor lesson experience.

How Should We Teach Determining Importance and Summarizing? Cognitive Strategy Routine (Steps 2-4)

Final Reflection:

How would presenting a cognitive strategy with this routine help students?

Considerations for Teaching Students to Identify Topic

This clip begins by clearly defining topic, main idea, and summary. Catlin then models a think-aloud (Step 5 of the Cognitive Strategy Routine) for identifying topic.

Materials needed:

PowerPoint Slides

 Additional Handout


Considerations for Teaching Students to Determine Importance and Identify Main Idea

This clip reviews the before reading, during reading and after reading tools for determining importance (HO5). Catlin also models the before reading think-aloud (Step 5 of the Cognitive Strategy Routine) for main idea.

Materials needed:

PowerPoint Slides

Additional Handouts


*CPQ note: A Comprehension Purpose Question (CPQ) is provided to students prior to reading as a scaffold to support and enhance COMPREHENSION. It is meant to be a single thoughtful, guiding question.

Thoughtful “questions appear to be effective for improving learning from reading, because they:

  • Give students a purpose for reading
  • Focus students' attention on what they are to learn
  • Help students to think actively as they read
  • Encourage students to monitor their comprehension
  • Help students to review content and relate what they have learned to what they already know."

(CIERA, 2001)

Text Structures and Think-Aloud Planning

This clip begins with a brief discussion of different informational text structures and includes a during reading think-aloud (Step 5 of the Cognitive Strategy Routine) for main idea and details model lesson.

Materials needed:

PowerPoint Slides

Additional Handouts


Considerations for Teaching Students to Summarize

Final Reflection:

How will you use what you learned in this training to help your students with comprehension?