Skip to Main Content

Garden City School Library: Get to the Point

Essential Question

How can I distill informational text into a summary?

1 - Discussion and Practice

  • Review: Ask the students what summarizing is and why it's a good skill to have. Ask them if they remember the SWBST method for fiction that we learned last year. Explain that now we're going to practice summarizing nonfiction ... why can't we use SWBST? (Answer: Unless you are learning about a person or a historical event, there are no characters encountering conflict.)
  • Group discussion: Ask what they already know about main idea and supporting details. (This should NOT be new to them, but they always have a really hard time with this lesson.) Tell them to think of the original text like a wet sponge; you want to squeeze out all the extra details until you're left with the overall point of the information. And we have another song from Jake Scott!

    Practice this concept with these exercises.

    Next, have the class read this article about the giant squid. What is the topic? (colossal squid) What main idea does the author want them to take away about it? That is their assignment. Give them several minutes to write a summary, which should be 1-2 sentences (the worksheet calls for 3-4, but that's too many for an article this short). They can work together for this.

    When time is up, ask for suggested summaries and type them up on the projector. Then have the kids decide whether the sponge needs to be squeezed out more. Or if the sponge is even there or fell in the sink. (Often kids will seize upon the first sentence as the main idea just because it is there at the front.)

2 - Individual Assigment

  • Individual workHand out this article about the mimic octopus (my new favorite animal!). Again, they can do it in 1-2 sentences v. 3-4.

  • Assessment:

    4 = main idea stated along with the benefits it holds

    3 = main idea stated (it can look like other animals)

    2 = main idea alluded to (it can disguise itself)

    1 = student did not find the main idea at all

  • Video: Behold, the mimic octopus.

3 - Follow-up

  • 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) 

    Pass out the RICBA notes/summary sheets so everyone has one before you start reading.

  • Readaloud: Read Going Places: Victor Hugo Green and His Glorious Book and have the students write a summary at the end.
  • Assessment: 

    4 = main idea stated along with an explanation of WHY Green created it

    3 = main idea stated (Green wrote a travel guide for Black people to find safe and available places)

    2 = main idea alluded to (he wrote a book)

    1 = student did not find the main idea at all

  • Critique: When everyone has submitted their summary, bring up examples written by 5th graders and have the 4th graders grade them according to the same rubric. 

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