Using Text Features to Summarize Text

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SWBAT use text features to aid in summarizing a text.

Big Idea

Students will use an online speaking avatar program to summarize informational text after exploring text features.


1 minutes


19 minutes

First, I have my students to create a KWHL chart about their favorite animal.  On this chart, they will list what they know about that animal, what they want to know about them, how they will go about learning about them, and what they learned about them after their research.  To begin the lesson, they will only fill in the section on what you already know about your favorite animal and what you want to know about them.

I explain to my scholars that today we will learn about how using text features can help us to summarize text.  Text features are things like table of contents, index, glossary, title, subheadings, bold/color/italicized print, photos, illustrations, captions, textbox, maps, diagrams, tables, timelines (Click here to access the text features Powerpoint presentation). As a good reader, you should use text features to help you to summarize text.  Remember our formula for writing a good summary is (I display the attached resource on the Smartboard).  I remind my scholars that summaries should only include the important information from the passage.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

I have students read "Fast Facts: Black Bears" by Kathy Kranking (Click here to access article).  As we read, we will list the types of text features we see (table of contents, title, bold print, subheadings).  The title "Fast Facts: Black Bears" gives us a clue that this passage is a piece of nonfiction text which was written to inform us about black bears. Each subheading tells us what each section will be about.  We can see the main subheadings focus on: where black bears live, what their bodies are like, and what they like to eat. We can remember those to use for our 3 supporting details sentences.  (Teacher begins writing summary paragraph on the board so students may follow along.)  I get students to help me to determine a topic sentence which states the main idea of the text (or what the passage is mostly about) and three sentences with supporting details.  Finally, we need a conclusion statement which sums up the ideas presented in the text.

Summary example (I type on the Smartboard):  There are more black bears in the world than any other kind of bear.  Most people never see black bears because they live in forests and other wild places.  Most black bears are not even black, and they are big, have very long tongues, and are good at using their paws.  Black bears eat almost anything, particularly nuts, fruits, seeds, roots, grasses, and honey.  Because there are strict laws about when and where black bears can be hunted, they are beginning to increase in numbers.

Collaborative Partner Work

20 minutes

Now I have scholars to work with a partner and use the Internet to research your favorite animal.  They use text features to aid them in writing a summary.  They create a summary which includes a topic sentence which states the main idea, three sentences which state supporting details 1-3, and a conclusion statement.  Once they have written the summary with a partner, they type their summary or orally record the two of them reading their summary in the speaking avatar program (Click here to access Voki website.) (Also see attached instructions for creating Voki avatars.)


5 minutes

To close the lesson, scholars complete their KWHL chart about their favorite animal.  At the beginning of the lesson they filled in what they already know and what they want to know about their favorite animal.  Now, to close the lesson, they fill in what they learned about their favorite animal and how they used text features to aid in writing your summary.