Practice Summarizing With More Short Stories

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SWBAT recount short stories and determine the main idea and supporting details to summarize.

Big Idea

Practice those main idea questions and summarize the main idea.



I’m teaching this lesson because my students need practice identifying main idea. There are questions on assessments (state and district) that are multiple choice and ask them to choose the best answer. This is the second lesson I have taught this way. Please refer to Practice Summarizing with Short Stories to see the first lesson.

My goal is to help my students summarize in 3 ways. I’m using the ‘arrow’ and idea of 'pointing' to the main idea because I think kids need something visual representation of how the 2 ideas support or point to the main idea.  I also am asking them to choose a main idea from a list of three and to further deconstruct the text to identify the main idea with supporting details, which is a Common Core Standard.  (RL.2.2) The shift in Common Core Standards encourage students to choose a main idea and show ‘why’ they chose that idea.  This is foundational for good reading and a skill that students need to practice. Finally, I want them to be able to summarize a book, by using the main ideas in each section. We do this as a group and then the students practice.

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)


Get students engaged & bring students to a common starting point in learning

  • "I brought a cool website to show you about summarizing. It has a pirate showing us how to summarize."
  • Pull up the website and follow these directions:
    • type in a name (anything is fine)
    • click 'get your key', click 'continue'
    • pick summarizing
    • choose a 'pirates' life'. 
    • Watch the video and then click 'try it yourself'.
  • "Let's look and see what the pirate says about main idea and supporting details." 
  • Try a few summaries with the kids on the website.  **


I chose to work on this website with the students. The language level ('pirate speech') is a little difficult and his accent is pretty thick.  However, the initial explanation of summarizing and his little summaries are really visual as we moved the sentences. My kids LOVED the website and it was fun to go through it as a group.

Teacher's Turn

20 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • Here's a lesson introduction.
  • "Today you will some paragraphs about the early America, so you'll be a 'pilgrim' instead of a 'pirate'."


Explain the strategy

  • Go through the powerpoint slide 1-2. Explain main idea and supporting ideas. Use the ‘arrow’ visual to show kids that the supporting ideas ‘support’ or verify the main idea.
  • Slides 3-5 are great slides to model for them. I would pause before showing the answers (by clicking) but think out loud.


Guided practice


Demonstrate the project - slide 11-14

  • Show the pages of informational text - discuss the main idea of each section and write the main idea/supporting details on each of the 'sails' on your teacher worksheet.
  • Here's the completed teacher worksheet.
  • "Now that I have 4 main ideas, I'll cut them out to make a summary for the all of the slides."
  • Cut out the boat, and then glue it with the said on the construction paper to make a Pilgrim boat.  Here's a picture of my project.

Students Take A Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • “Now it’s your turn to try some main ideas. I have some stories on your worksheet about pilgrims for you to read. 
  • Write the main idea, draw a line and write some supporting details."
  • “Think about the size of your printing – we’re in 2nd grade now.  Write small so it fits in the spaces. “


Student practice 

  • Students read the paragraphs
  • Students identify main ideas on the worksheet with supporting details.
  • Remind them to ignore the extra details.
  • Here is a student searching the text for the supporting details.


As students examine these multi paragraph texts, they are asked to identify the main topic and supporting details. (RI.2.2) The Common Core Standards wants them to be 'close readers' who are able to analyze the text as they read. Can they identify what the text is about (main idea)? What supports that main idea (details)? How can they show this is the main idea? This ability to return to text, specifically informational text with topics that are cross curricular, allow the students deepen their comprehension.

Apply What You've Learned!

10 minutes

Show what you’ve learned

  • "Now that you have 3 main ideas, let's cut them out to make a summary for the all of the slides."
  • Students cut them out, cut out the boat, and then glue them on the construction paper to make a Pilgrim boat.  Here's a picture of one of my students making the project.
  • Here's some examples - completed student project and student project 2.


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

I read the paragraphs with my students who had language challenges. We sat as a group and I gave them prompts for writing.

Students with more ability should be encouraged to use some of the vocabulary from the topic, such as 'colonist', 'taxes' and 'ruled'.