Thursday, December 6, 2012

Summary Writing in Nonfiction Unit: Part 2

This is the second post about writing summaries within our nonfiction unit.  To read my first post, please click here.   To read my other posts about note-taking in our nonfiction unit, click here.  

Last week, we started writing summaries for nonfiction articles with multiple main ideas.  I modeled reading an article and identifying two main ideas by using the sections and subheadings in the article.   After annotating the article with students, I shared the summary I wrote about the article and had students turn and talk to share what they noticed.  We labeled the parts of the summaries just like we did with our summaries that contained only one main idea in our previous mini-lessons.  After the mini-lesson, students went off to write their own summaries for a nonfiction article of their choice and used my summary as a mentor.  

At first, I thought that students would have difficulty writing summaries with multiple main ideas, but they proved me wrong - they did really well!  We had a great conversation during our reader's share that day and students shared strategies they used to help determine the multiple main ideas and how they included them in their summaries.  Once students were able to write solid summaries with two main ideas for a nonfiction article that has subheadings/sections, we began to work on writing summaries for articles without those expository features.  To begin this work, students had to first determine the underlying main ideas within the text and label them as they annotated the article.  Again, students had success writing summaries with multiple main ideas and shared strategies with their classmates and added more mentor summaries to our bulletin board for classmates.  

This week, we created our own summary rubric for our classroom by using summary examples and annotating them.  As a class, we read four different summaries for the same nonfiction article and leveled them 1-4 with 4 being the strongest summary with clear main ideas, specific and important details that support the main ideas, and specific word choice.  As we moved the summaries around on the chart (I used removable tape to help move the summaries around), we annotated them using post-its to jot down the characteristics of each summary.  This helped students understand the characteristics of summaries at each level and think about where their own summaries would fall on our continuum.  Students went off with their writing partner to read and reflect on their own summaries using the continuum and annotating their own summaries.

Happy Summarizing! :)


  1. Loving your posts about working with students on nonfiction. I am teaching the same topic right now! Also good to see another blog, with two blog writers. I blog with a good friend of mine too.


  2. I especially like your idea for students constructing a rubric. In addition to learning how to summarise, students learned to self-evaluate and discuss elements of standard and exceptional work. Have pinned this :).

    Janet |

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