Summarizing the Topic, Main Idea, and Details

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SWBAT write a short summary about their favorite season based on the topic, main idea, and details from the text sections they read.

Big Idea

Your students will realize their journals practically write themselves when they use the information from their graphic organizer!


In my opinion, writing is one of the most telling resources a teacher has for determining a student's area of strength or need.  It is also one of the most difficult skills a student will acquire.  I am not just talking about holding a pencil to paper, but the entire thought process that writing involves.  Today's lesson will support students in writing a summary of their informational text, so that they in turn can convey information to a reader about the text they read.

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, and after reviewing yesterday’s graphic organizers, I wanted my students to demonstrate that they could independently summarize a section of the text Seasons using their graphic organizers as guides to write about their favorite season.



5 minutes

I began the lesson by reminding my students that yesterday they read about three different seasons, and asked them what those seasons were.  They all called out the seasons.  I then asked if any of them remembered what “summary” meant.  As hands shot up, I used the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) to select a student to share.  This student reported that a summary was, ‘… when you write something.’  My students agreed a summary was writing.  I re-explained in this case it was using the topic, main idea, and details to write about what we are reading.  I then asked my students, “What are we reading about”?  They either called out “seasons” or the specific season they used for yesterday’s graphic organizer.  I then asked, “And what do you think you are going to write about today?”  Again they either called out “seasons” or the specific season they worked with.  “Yes!” I said.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

To get them started I instructed them to whisper the answers (Demonstration: Whisper to Me) to these questions:

  • What is the topic of a story?  (it is what the story is about.)
  • What is the main idea?  (it was the important thing about a story.)
  • Where can you find clues?  (from the title and first sentences.)
  • What are the details?  (they tell us more about the main idea and make the reading interesting.)

From there I explained that today they were going to use the graphic organizer they made yesterday to write a summary about their favorite season. 

I then instructed my students to listen to four journal samples from their writing about fall on day two of this unit.  I read one student sample from each of my reading groups.  As I read I pointed out that the students all started off with the prompt, In the fall, and wrote the main idea, then they used the detail to write sentences about what happens in the fall. 

When I finished reading I explained that today they were to use their Topic, Main Idea, Detail graphic organizer to write a summary about their favorite season.  I used the magic cup to select a student to re-state what they were going to do.  

As this student finished re-telling the directions, I pointed out that they were only going to write about the one season.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

I then instructed my students to take out their journals and graphic organizers from yesterday, and gave them a minute to look them over.  When they were finished I instructed them to use the graphic organizer to write a summary about their favorite season. 

While the class was working I set the timer for 15 minutes and pulled the beginning readers I worked with yesterday.  I wrote the prompt on the small white board:  My favorite season ___. In the ___.   They continued to sit with me and I helped them with reading their graphic organizers and spelling.  For the most part they finished their work independently. 

At the end of 15 minutes we began our differentiated leveled reading rotation, where my students rotate through ELA activities every 15 to 20 minutes.  One activity they do is journal writing.  Today during their journal time they were to finish their writing about their favorite season.

I checked their journals when they rotated through my reading group.  The video samples are from two of my students in the high reading group.  In Student Summary 1, I am prompting the student about the memories the pictures in the text gave her about fishing.  While the student in Student Summary 2, basically makes a list of the details in the text.  In the Student Sample: Winter, the student writes a brief summary, gives a couple of details, and provides a sense of closure.  We still need to work on neatness.

At the end of my reading group time, each group rotated to the 'round table' where they corrected spelling and grammar errors on their journal piece.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

For a sticker my students had to show me they completed their journal and give me their opinion if using the graphic organizer helped make the writing easier or not.