Teaching summarizing scaffolds from grades three to five. Third graders simply retell the story. Fourth graders summarize the details. Using the tried-and-true “somebody wanted but then so” makes it easier. By fifth grade, students must consider the story arc, including the characters’ responses and motivations.
The second literature standard in the Common Core State Standards ties summarizing to theme. Let’s take a look at the standards for grades three through five.
RL.3.2 – Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
Third graders focus on retelling the story. They can do this by telling the beginning, middle, and end in their own words.
RL.4.2 – Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
Fourth graders are asked to summarize. They must retell only key details, or elements, of the story: character(s), setting and plot. To hit all important elements, try somebody wanted but then so. This will move them toward the fifth grade standard.
RL.5.2 – Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
Fifth graders are also asked to summarize. Note that they must discuss how the character responds to challenges. By fifth grade, students should be able to identify the main character, his or her goal or motivation, the obstacle(s) that get in the way, steps he or she takes to achieve the goal and/or overcome the obstacle, and the outcome or resolution.
Using a graphic organizer helps students in grades 4 and 5 pull out key elements. Click here to download this freebie.
Clip art was provided by A Sketchy Guy.
Let’s look at an example of a summary for “The Dog and His Shadow.”
Polishing Student Summaries
Summaries provide great opportunities for improving student writing. Kids can work on strategies, such as combining sentences, using transitional phrases, and adding details to help the audience understand better.
For an expanded version of modeling for “The Dog and His Shadow,” as well as guided practice with “The Fox and the Grapes,” check out Summarizing PowerPoint. It can also be purchased as a part of the comprehensive Summarizing Unit.
Stop by next week for a look at the other part of this standard, theme. I post new ideas, activities, and free downloads every week. Click here for an index (and to see what’s coming soon.)
Enjoy teaching summarizing!