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Summarizing nonfiction

So the other day I shared how I took an article, cut it up, and collaboratively re-created it with my fourth and fifth grade pull-out intervention group. That went really well and you can read about it here.
Over the past couple days, my students and I took those articles we reconstructed and re-read them in one piece.  This was the article I read with third and fourth grade. 

 With fourth grade, I used the article as a way to review writing a nonfiction summary to process text. I wanted students to think about using the structure of the article (divided into sections with headings) to help them write their summary.

With third grade, I wanted to practice the same skill, but my third graders have trouble differentiating between the most important ideas, or main ideas of sections, and specific facts or details. To support this, I wrote a variety of statements from the article on sentence strips. 
Some ideas (Meerkats live in burrows under the ground) were very specific facts from the article. Others (Meerkats help each other by taking turns looking out for predators) were main ideas from the article. Using these sentences in a pocket chart, as well as the headings for each section and the title, we made decisions about the following things:
1. Which pieces of information are important and which are specific facts?
2. Which pieces of information would be included in a summary?
3. How can the title/headings help us choose what is important and organize it?
4. What order should the important information be sequenced in to be in logical order?
We made a little chart to help us with interesting vs. important. I forgot to take a picture! But this is the general idea:
Interesting: a specific fact or detail. Makes you say, “Wow!” or “I didn’t know that!”. May not be related to the main idea or purpose of the article. (real-life example: toys. They’re not necessary, but we like them)
Important: a big idea. Related to the main idea or purpose of the article. Headings/titles can give you clues about what will be important in the article. (real-life example: food. It might not be fun, but it’s necessary)
Still, though, this was tough for my third graders. This is what we came up with. I marked the words in the sentences that helped us identify if the statement was related to the main idea/topic of the article.
Overall, not a bad lesson. Wish I’d had a little more time to spend with them, though. Half an hour was kind of rushed.

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  1. Wow! I think it was a fabulous lesson! I just connected via Google Friend Connect and can't wait to come back to learn more from you! I'm a fifth grade ELA teacher and am so happy I stumbled on to your blog via a link you link in a blog comment. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    Creating Lifelong Learners

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