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Garden City School Library: Summarizing Stories

Essential Question

How can I distill a story into a brief summary?

1 - Discussion and Practice

  • Introduction: Ask the students what summarizing is and why it's a good skill to have. Explain that we're going to start with summarizing fiction.
  • Group discussion: Introduce the Somebody / Wanted / But / So / Then framework for summarizing a plot. Show this video to get it stuck in their brains: 

Read We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins. Afterwards, work as a group to summarize it. Who are the "somebodies"? What do they want?  

Next, r
ead Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky to the students. Before having the students start their summaries, review the list of potential “somebodies” – the girl, the king, Rumpelstiltskin, the miller, and the servant. Some kids will mention the baby, but since he's only a few months old, he doesn't really know what is happening, so don't use him.

2 - Individual Assigment

  • Individual work: Using this template, students summarize the story. The longer I teach, the fewer kids have any background on the story, so you can play a video version while they work in case they need to go through the plot again.

  • Assessment:

    4 = exceptionally well-written summary that encompasses key plot elements in just a couple of sentences

    3 = all elements within framework included and make sense 

    2 = summary element missing or improperly placed​ (kids often have a problem making the "but" transition)

    1 = student clearly was not listening to the story

Standards Addressed

AASL: I.B.3 - Learners engage with new knowledge by following a process that includes generating products that illustrate learning; I.C.1 - Learners adapt, communicate, and exchange learning products with others in a cycle that includes interacting with content presented by others; III.D.1 - Learners actively participate with others in learning situations by actively contributing to group discussions; IV.B.4 - Learners gather information appropriate to the task by organizing information by priority, topic, or other systematic scheme.

Common Core: RL.4.2 - Summarize the text; RL.4.6 - Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated; SL.5.2 - Summarize a written text read aloud

Rhode Island Cross-Curricular Proficiencies: Communication - Communicate understanding and interpretation of information; Problem Solving and Critical Thinking - Implement a plan or process of approach using tools and information.

Rhode Island School Library Curriculum Priority Skills: 1.1 - Summarizes information; states the main idea with some supporting details; 3.2 - Actively contributes to group discussions