7 - Summary Paragraph


Possible Summaries

On the OSSLT you would be asked to:

“Summarize this selection. Include a main idea and one point that supports it.”

Read the passage called "The Century Flower."  Note the main idea and some of the supporting details. Look over the three summaries that follow and decide which one best meets the criteria set by the OSSLT



Activity Section


The Century Flower

Print this if you want.

Imagine a plant that blooms only once every hundred years!  During the last hundred years, technology has produced the plane and the rocket.  People have travelled through space, reached the moon, and measured the distance to a star.  Television, telephone and radio have been invented.  Through all this time, the ma-dake bamboo of Japan, a “century plant,” has flowered but once.

The Japanese people greet the phenomenon of the plant’s flowering with sadness.  The economic life of the country people depends to a great extent upon the ma-bamboo.  It is used in making paper, creating art, building houses and for a myriad of other purposes.  Unfortunately, once the plant blooms, it dies.  The Japanese people mourn the death of these plants, just as an American farmer would mourn the death of a wheatfield.

Miles of bamboo forests wither at the same time.  This is because a forest consists of a single generation of plants.  Plants in a generation go through the various stages of development together.

Most other plants and flowers produce seeds and fruit.  The ma-bamboo doesn’t.  It is unique.  It sends out roots to perpetuate itself.  When the bamboo blossoms, even the roots die.  Ten years must pass before new roots take hold

The bamboo last flowered in 1960.  In most parts of Japan, it will not blossom again until 2060.  Like Halley’s Comet, it is a rare, natural occurrence, to be seen only once in a lifetime, if one is born at the right time.


Sample Margin Notes

Main Idea

  • Japanese bamboo blooms only once every one hundred years.

Supporting Details

  • Once it blooms, it dies
  • It is important to the Japanese economy
  • Many forests die at the same time
  • They cannot be replanted, they replenish through a root system
  • Roots take ten years to start
  • Flowering is rare
  • Last time was 1960, it will bloom in 2060.



Your Turn

Which of the three following summaries best meets the criteria:

“Summarize this selection. Include a main idea and one point that supports it.”



Sample Summary  1

Is it possible to have a plant that only blooms once in a hundred years?  There are so many great events that have occurred in a hundred years, like the invention of television, telephone, radio, computers and other inventions, but this plant in Japan has only bloomed once.  The Japanese people rely heavily on the ma-dake bamboo.  They use it in all sorts of industry including paper, art and construction.  The Japanese people are very saddened once the flower blooms because it means the bamboo will die.  The Japanese mourn the death of the bamboo.  Bamboo grows in large forests and one whole forest of bamboo will perish at the same time.  The plants develop together at the same time.  The bamboo doesn’t produce fruit or seeds so the bamboo cannot be planted.  The bamboo replenishes itself through its roots.  It takes ten years for roots to start new plants.  The last time the bamboo blossomed was in 1960.  It will blossom again in 2060.  Halley’s Comet and other events are rare, too.

The answer isToo Long

  • Is paraphrased, but extra information added
  • Asks a questions which forces the audience to participate
  • Not an appropriate conclusion





Sample Summary 2

The bamboo of Japan is a plant that blooms only once every hundred years. This plant flowered in 1960 and will not bloom again until 2060.


The answer is Too Short

  • Good introductory/ concluding sentence but…
  • No supporting details
  • Not enough information
  • No main idea






Sample Summary 3

Japan’s ma-dake bamboo is a plant that blooms only once every hundred years.  Once the plant blooms, it dies which saddens the Japanese people because the bamboo is important to their economy.  The last time the bamboo flowered was in 1960 and it is scheduled to bloom again in 2060.


The answer is The Best Choicet

  • Good introductory/ concluding sentence
  • Combines information nicely
  • Includes main idea and supporting detail




Next: 7.4 Independent Practice