'Frame the Story' with Informational Text

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SWBAT use text features and the structure of text to summarize key details, analyzing what the author's purpose was for the text.

Big Idea

If we can put a frame around the key details, we'll have a strong summary!


  • Second grade reading level informational texts of any topic with short chapters, clear illustrations, and examples of repeated words and first or last sentences as a main idea (I used copies of Looking at Solids, Liquids, and Gases by Jackie Gaff because we were studying the properties of matter)
  • Informational text feature headers (cut apart)
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: summarize, key details, illustration, text features, main idea, informational text, heading, table of contents
  • Ipads for students to use with internet connection
  • Pictures of solids, liquids, and gases or pictures of concepts of your topic
  • ‘Frame Story’ app (it’s free) -play around with the app to be comfortable-it’s very easy to use, but you will need a SAMPLE to show the kids
  • Summarizing Informational Text worksheet - copy front/back
  • Topical vocabulary (optional): solid, liquid, gas, matter, state of matter, property
  • Whiteboard set up like the worksheet 


This lesson is part of a series that I taught about using repeated words/first or last sentences/illustrations to summarize. Take a look at A Feast of Summaries and Make a Newspaper with Summaries to see how I used this organizer with other stories.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Introducing the topic-setting lesson goals

  • “I brought some books today and we’re going to read and take some pictures. When we read, we can summarize to tell others about what the main idea was."
  • "Today we will organize our pictures into a ‘story frame’ to show the main idea and summarize.”


Engaging students

  • Show the framestory sample
  • “Here’s one example of a frame story about ‘solids’ – that’s what we talked about before.”  If you’re doing another topic (not solids, liquids, gases), then make a story frame sample about that.


Knowing and using text features to locate facts and analyzing how those facts are organized (RI.2.5) helps students identify the main topic of multi-paragraphs text and focus of specific paragraphs. (RI.2.2) The reader can use this information to determine what the author wants to answer, explain or describe and assess how purpose shapes content of a text. (RI.2.6)

Teachers' Turn

20 minutes

Discuss text organization and informational text features

  • “The author of the book helps us to understand by organizing the information.”
  • “This book is organized into chapters.  Refer to the informational text feature headers and word wall words on the board.  What is that part of the book that lists the chapters called? (table of contents) It lists the chapters of the book. Each chapter has a heading.  In the chapters, there are paragraphs about the main idea.” 


 Explain how to summarize

  • “Look for key details to understand what’s really important. Put these key details together and you have a summary.”
  • “Authors show  the key details in different ways.”
    • Authors repeat words – those are important words for me to know
    • The author uses a first or last sentence to tell me what’s important
    • He also uses illustrations to show what is important or verify the main idea. It helps us to check if what we think is important really is.” See the discussion of how the illustration is or is not matching the text.


Demonstrate strategy

  • “Let me read this first chapter of this book. Pp. 4-5 Look at this example – how does the author show me what the key ideas are?”
    • “The word ..... is repeated many times. The last sentence has that word and it seems like the main idea.
    • This author uses illustrations so I can check for the main idea. It does have solid people, liquid water, and air as a gas.  The illustration verifies my idea about the main idea.”
    • See my whiteboard examples for chapter 1 and chapter. 2.
  • Demonstrate this with at least 2 chapters so students can see that some chapters have a first sentence that you can use for a summary and others require you to infer the summary from repeated words.

Demonstrate how to create the project

  • “Now I have 2 examples of how you can write a summary with help from the author.  I used repeating words, first or last sentence, and illustration to figure out the main idea.”
  • “Now I’m going to take 4 pictures from the text that show those key ideas. I’ll take a photo of 4 pictures with the ipad and then put them in a frame story app.
  • Frame Story app directions: Choose ‘guest’   ‘add board’  ‘create new board', type name, ‘choose format’, add pictures and adjust as necessary. 
  • “I’ll write my main idea on the page be ready to share a summary of the chapter.”

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Students use the strategy

  • “It’s your turn to summarize 2 more chapters with a group.”
  • Review the group rules poster.
  • “Read each chapter first. and look for repeating words, first and last sentence and the illustrations.“ Here's a video of a student looking for words that repeat.
  • "Think about what the author wants you to know - the main idea."
  • “Check the illustration. Does it match these ideas?  Write a good summary using all of these ideas.”

Students write a summary

  • Pass out the summarizing worksheet
  • “Write your summaries for 2 chapters on both sides of the worksheet.”  If you have other books and multiple copies, the kids could work together to do one chapter each.
  • “Raise you hand when you're done and I’ll check your work.'


Demonstrate what they know

  • Pass out the iPads and discuss rules for using iPads. Here the iPad Rules that my kids came up with at the beginning of the year.
  • “Choose one chapter and take 4 pictures to make a frame story showing the main ideas. Here's a video my students manipulating the pictures for the app. Show the extra pictures cards if there are not enough pictures in the book.
  • Pick the main ideas only to represent your summary.
  • Here's a picture of my kids working on the app. Students may have to help each other take pictures.

Apply What You've Learned!

10 minutes

Wrap up and students sharing

  • “Let’s share our summaries. Do you think they will all be the same?”  Invoke discussion
  • “Our summaries should be mostly the same because we looked at the same chapters and they really have one main idea.”
  • ‘Who wants to share their pictures that show the main idea?” Here are examples of student project and student project 2


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

If students work in groups, a better reader could read the chapter. Otherwise, you could sit with the challenged readers and read with them. They may need help with the words and summary. I used a slate at their desk to prompt them with ideas.

For students with more ability, challenge them to use some inference and go beyond the text a bit. If the text says that ‘matter can be solids, liquids or gas’ see if they can add a detail to that. ‘Matter could be a solid, such as a desk, or liquid, such as water, or a gas, such as air.’  See if they can bolster up the vocabulary as well – use words such as property, change, or states.