The Secret of the Summary: Chapter 2

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SWBAT provide an objective summary of a chapter of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by using guiding questions.

Big Idea

The answer to a concise and clear summary? Questions, of course!


5 minutes

I like to begin today's lesson by having a quick Q&A session to help everyone remember what happened in chapter 1 and who some of the main characters are.  There are quite a few ways this can be done, with the most simple being to ask the questions to the class and then call on students. You could display the questions and have the students write answers or you could even create written reading quiz.

I want students to remember the answers to these questions:

  1. Who does Tom live with?
  2. How is Tom related to Aunt Polly?
  3. How is Tom related to Sid?
  4. Who is Jim?
  5. What did Tom do instead of going to school that day?
  6. How did he get caught?
  7. Describe the new boy.
  8. What happened between the new boy and Tom?
  9. How did Tom get back into his house?

Describe the characters: Aunt Polly, Tom, and Sid

The goal of this Q&A session is simply to make sure that everyone remembers where we left off yesterday.

Getting Down to Business

40 minutes

After we've reviewed the characters and events of Chapter 1, we will listen to Chapter 2.

Once the chapter is over, I let the students know that we're going to be summarizing chapter 2.  Because this lesson is more focused on how to write a summary, rather than the actual details in this particular summary, I will kick off the activity by asking for a show of hands of which students have trouble writing summaries.

Usually, at least half of the class will raise their hands.

Of those raising their hands, I ask if anyone can tell me what's hard about writing a summary.  Hopefully, I will hear things like they don't know what to write and it's hard to decide what to include and what to leave out.

This is where I get to brag a little.  I tell them that we're going to cover a summary strategy that works so well that high school students have sent me emails saying how helpful it has been in their high school English classes.

I have them set up a sheet of paper for Cornell Notes, and I display the first screen of the presentation.  Students copy the Essential Question onto their notes.  As we go through the screens, I have them pay attention to how they're taking notes.  There are two threads running through these notes: how to write a summary and the actual summary of chapter 2.  

Once we've gone through the screens, they will have instructions for writing a summary and an example.  This will be a great resource to use throughout the year.

Did They Get It?

5 minutes

I collect these notes as a formative assessment.  It is so important to make sure students have a complete resource and that they're understanding the summarizing strategy sooner, rather than later.

I am also checking for a metacognitive response in the summary of the Cornell Notes.  Keeping in mind that the summary of the notes should answer the essential question, I am looking for students to reflect on what details should be included in a summary and how this strategy can help them produce a well-written summary.