Introduction to Summaries: An Independent Activity

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SWBAT to listen to a class read-aloud and identify key story elements.

Big Idea

Students differentiate between details and main points.


5 minutes

This is day two of a lesson about summaries. In the first day, I taught students the terms "conflict, climax and resolution" to describe parts of a story. If they missed any one of those three parts, then they probably wouldn't have a complete summary.

We read a book and discussed how to find those parts of the story. We also focused on climax a lot because students were having a hard time not getting it mixed up with parts of the rising action.

In this lesson, I remind students that they are going to hear another story and listen for the most important parts, namely the conflict, climax, and resolution. 

Although students have been asked to summarize what they have read throughout their reading lives, the terms "conflict, climax, and resolution" are relatively new. It can be easy to equate "conflict" with problem and "resolution" with problem but climax is a more difficult thing for students to identify, especially as the read more complex books. These lesson helps students receive the exposure they need to develop this skill.


20 minutes

The story I read to the class is a fairy tale from the Vietnamese culture. It is sort of a Cinderella story, called, "The Lampstand Princess". There is no known author because it is a folktale. I chose the Vietnamese "Cinderella" story because my class is learning about Vietnam throughout the year. However, if I wasn't focusing on Vietnam, I would use any rendition of a very well known fairytale, such as Cinderella. With this story, and other Cinderella stories, I will be able to help students compare story elements later on. But first, they need to be able to identify the plot and sequence of events in the story.

After I finish reading the story, I write up a few character names and words that are specific to the story so they can reference them as they are writing.

Students then write down what they think is the conflict, climax, and resolution.


5 minutes

After students are finished writing the conflict, climax and resolution down, they share with other students what they thought. Sharing with other students gives them a chance to explain their thinking and be challenged with alternative ideas. If their peers or members of the group affirm their ideas then they can feel confidence in what they understood about the story.

Students are also asked to share with the class as we discuss confusing parts and specific examples. Having students share with class, gives me a chance to assess quickly what the class understood and to address any common issues and misunderstanding.