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Oak Lawn School Library: Summarizing Nonfiction

Essential Question

How can I summarize information effectively?

Lesson 1 - To Sum Up

  • Review: Remind the students that we discussed summarizing last year. Ask for a definition. See if anyone can remember the method we used for summarizing a fictional plot (SWBST). Do a sample SWBST on the whiteboard using a book or movie suggested by a student. 
     
  • Discussion: As the kids why SWBST won't work for nonfiction. (Answer: Unless you are learning about a person, there are no characters encountering conflict.) Explain that instead they need to look for the main idea and key details.

    Go to TV411's lesson on summarizing and do the following nonfiction items: Activity 1, Question 2-8; Activity 2, Question 1-2.

     
  • Assessment: Students who contributed to the discussion receive participation points.

Lesson 2 - Summarizing a Short Article

  • Review: Ask the students to explain the two important elements of a nonfiction summary (main idea and key details). 
     
  • Discussion: Hand out the paragraph about rare pennies (see below). Read it out loud and then give the students a few minutes to try and condense it into one sentence. Type up their suggestions on the projector and work to craft a solid answer (i.e., "Two types of pennies - 1943 copper and 1955 double die - are rare and therefore worth a lot of money.") 
     
  • Group work: Hand out the short article about mimic octopuses (see below). Give the students several minutes to work together at each table to condense it into a summary. Again, review answers and work to craft a solid answer (i.e., "Mimic octopuses can look and act like 15 different species. They use this camouflage to survive.")

  • Assessment: Students who contributed to the discussion receive participation points. Students with good summaries get a check for that standard.

Lesson 3 - Summarizing a Nonfiction Book

  • Review: Ask the students the standard RICBA questions: How many books are on the list? (20) How many do you need to read to vote? (3) How many do you need to read to participate in the Rooster Games? (7) What are the Rooster Games? (City-wide trivia contest) 

    Pass out the RICBA summary sheets (see below) so everyone has one before you start reading.

     
  • Readaloud: Read a nonfiction RICBA book; for this timeframe, I did Inky's Amazing Escape (which was a nice followup to the mimic octopus article). When you're done, remind the students that their summary should include a main idea and a couple of key details.
     
  • Assessment: Students who have a main idea and key details get a check for this standard. If they already had a check from last week, add a plus.

Lesson 4 - Critiquing Summaries

  • Prep: Pull a variety of student-written summaries into a document with questions for critiquing them (see below). I ended up with 18: 6 pages with 3 on each.
     
  • Review: Ask the students to explain the two important elements of a nonfiction summary (main idea and key details). 
     
  • Individual Work: Hand out the critique document and go over what they're looking for in order to score the summaries. Once everyone is done, have them share out.
     
  • Assessment: Students whose scores make sense get a check for this standard. If they already had a check from last week, add a plus.

Standards Addressed

Common Core: RI.5.2. - Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text; SL.5.2 - Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats.