The Boy Without a Birthday

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SWBAT listen to a read aloud to summarize the sequence of main events in a story.

Big Idea

Summarize Across Pages of a Text!


15 minutes

I say, "Please come up to the rug one table at a time and sit in your just right spots."

Today students you will hear a story based on true events during the 1840s.  This story took place during the period of slavery in the United States. Here are four words new words I want you to think about: Master, Mistress, Tobacco, and Slave Market"

I'm going to show you Henry's Freedom Box vocabulary slide show to demonstrate what these words mean."

Show the slide show and engage students in a discussion in what they think is going on in the picture and why they think that.  If you have time use the VTS strategy as in other lessons where students were developing background knowledge.


Teaching Point:  Readers listen to a story to summarize across the pages by retelling the main events in order across our fingers.

"You will be evaluating the events across the pages and relative importance to the plot of the story.  We won't include everything that happens in the story as we retell across our fingers, but instead we will pick out the most important events and tell them across our fingers."

Readers, one way we get a feel for a story is to read the blurb on the back and the inside flap of the book jacket.  This will give us a big idea of the story.

Read back and inside flap.

"Readers, turn and talk with your partner about what this true story is about."  Call on one student to share what they said.

Read the first page. "Students, watch me as I jot down some notes about what I know about the main character.  We know that it is important to pay attention to the WHO, WHERE, and WHEN."  Show Reading Response Journal

I continue reading pages 2-4 and then stop and ask, "Students turn and talk about what is the first main event we could retell?"

Listen in and call on students to suggest first main event.

Im anticipating students will say, "This is a story about Henry, a young slave boy who was unexpectedly given away by his master to his son."

Read pages 5-7.  Stop and ask, "Students turn and talk about what is the second main event we could retell?"  Process students' responses as before.

Elicit student responses and clarify any confusion or disputes. Repeat what the class thinks is the next main event by saying, "Henry works in a tobacco factory and one day meets Nancy, a woman on the street."  Jot down students' ideas as they give them in RRN under doc cam.  Direct students to practice retelling the first two main events across their fingers.

Ask students what they noticed about the illustrations of Henry from page 5 to page 6 and 7? (Henry has grown older)

Read pages 8.  Stop and have students turn and talk. Record their ideas of third important event by jotting down:  "Third, Henry and Nancy are married, have three children.  Henry and Nancy worry about the possibility of being sold and separated." in reading response journal.

Read pages 9-11.  Stop, turn and talk and jot ideas.  Fourth:" Nancy and children are sold at slave market."

Now, have students watch as I retell all four events across my fingers. Say, " Watch me as I  summarized the important events in this story across pages 1-11 on my fingers and then you will practice with your partner doing the same thing. 

Here is the list I wrote as I was teaching the strategy of summarizing across pages that students can use to support their retell.

Independent Reading

30 minutes

"Students, as you are reading in your own books practice summarizing by stoping every few pages and thinking to your self what is happening?  Is it a new, important event that I should remember? Repeat the main event in your head and across your fingers.  This will help you summarize and understand the story.

Some of you may want to JOT down the big important events just like I did as you are reading.  The important thing is to practice retelling main events across your fingers to yourself and then to a partner. I know some of you are jotting on a time line and that is a great strategy too.

I will wait a few minutes for students to engage in their independent reading before I start to confer with individual readers, pairs or groups of three.  I will confer with my ELL students and students with learning disabilities with the lens of providing them the support they need to be successful in the task. Supports include helping them set up their notebooks with transition words or coaching them orally to retell just the basic events without a lot of elaboration.