A Feast of Summaries of 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

Put all the main ideas together for a ‘feast’ of a summary


  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: summarize, key details, illustration, text features, heading, informational text, main idea
  • Informational text Feature Headers
  • Thanksgiving powerpoint (see resources in other section)
  • Screen, projector and internet connection to access website
  • Large butcher block paper
  • 'Platter' templates (see resources in other section)
  • Scissors, glue sticks and markers for kids
  • Summarizing Worksheet
  • Topical vocabulary (optional): tradition, common, celebration, vegetarian
  • Set up the whiteboard to mirror the worksheet

Let's Get Excited!

10 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)


Gain student interest and bring students to the same point in learning

  • Show the Thanksgiving powerpoint  - discuss the ideas - "What do you see? Have you done that before?"
  • Many of the concepts in the powerpoint are based on the article that they'll read - if students have other traditions, they could share them now.

Introduce the vocabulary 

  • Go over the new vocabulary on the whiteboard and encourage kids to share, using the vocabulary - if not restate their phrases. Student says 'I help to collect food and that is good.' You restate - 'Yes you are generous when you help collect food.'
  • My kids were fascinated with the idea of the 'tofurkey' 


I have taught this summarizing strategy in 2 other lessons. I encourage you to take a look at Frame the Story with Informational Text and Make a Newspaper with Summaries to see other ways that students can practice this kind of summarizing. They typically need multiple opportunities to practice to get proficient at summarizing.

Teachers' Turn

15 minutes

Discuss how the book is organized and the author's purpose

  • “When we read informational text, there is organization to the text. Authors organize information to help us understand. Take a look at this online story. How would you say it is organized?”
  • "The author uses text features such as headings to separate the information. The headings give us ideas about the key details inside informational text. The key details put together a summary that helps us know what’s really important.As I discuss this, I use these informational text features.


Explain the strategy - identifying key details

  • We will use our informational text features to summarize today." Here's a video of me reviewing text features.
  • “When an author writes a story, he wants to show the reader the key details. Author’s can show the key details are in different ways.”
  • "Authors repeat words – those are important words to know."
  • "The author uses a first or last sentence to tell what’s important."
  • “Authors use illustrations to verify that summaries are correct.”

Demonstrate the strategy

  • “Let’s read over the first paragraph of this article about Thanksgiving Traditions.” See how set up paragraph 1 on the whiteboard.
  • “The words ‘traditions’ and the word ‘Thanksgiving or turkey day’ are repeated. Those are the key details. The last sentence has those words so I’ll use that for the summary of my paragraph. Let me check the verify with the illustration - it does match my summary." Here is a video of me adding ideas to match illustrations.
  • “Look at the 2nd paragraph. What words are repeated?  Do you see those in a sentence?”  Repeat the same modeling as the last chapter. See this example of paragraph 2.
  • “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 illustrations to figure out the main idea.


Show how to make the project

  • “I’ll write my main idea on the page and copy it on the ‘platter’." 
  • "Since we’re reading about Thanksgiving, the main idea of my paragraph will be added to our table so we can have a big feast.”

Students' Take a Turn

15 minutes

Hand out worksheets and assign paragraphs to students.

  • Ultimately, you should leave the powerpoint up on the screen and students read off that. I had a few technical problems so it looked different for my students working

 Review how to summarize

Check over their worksheets for completion.


As students examine text to find support and key details for the main idea, they are using 'close reading' to comprehend vocabulary. This 'close reading' is a shift in the Common Core away from literal reading with answers directly in the text toward comprehensive reading with answers inferred and determined by examination of text structure and ideas verified by the reader. By creating a summary of these details, (RI.2.2) students are demonstrating the ability to use the organization and details in the text to compose a main idea that explains what they've read.

Apply What You've Learned!

10 minutes

Students share their ideas

  • Pass out a platter templates so students transfer their summaries on a 'platter'. 
  • They share their summaries for the class. 
  • Encourage them to use the vocabulary we wrote on the board.

Students create a project

  • Since the author intends each paragraph to be part of a whole story, we can glue on these summaries to a 'feast' of summaries project
  • I explained how to do this and the students really enjoyed putting together the summaries.
  • As a group, we wrote one summary for the whole text.  "What did the author want us to know about all of these ideas?"


Helping students realize the organization of a text - that paragraphs or sections fit into a whole text, is an important shift in the Common Core Standards. (RI.2.6)

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

For students with academic challenges, it would be best if they work in a group or with the teacher. The text is at 2nd grade level and writing summaries is a difficult skill so they may need the help. The group vocabulary review and sharing would be great for them to hear other students' ideas.

For students with greater academic ability, there should be an expectation of deeper level thinking and higher level vocabulary. When my students read over their summary as they finish, I will ask them if they can think of more descriptive words or can they use words from the whiteboard that we reviewed to make it sound more 'like a 3rd grader'.