Summarizing Fiction with Henry’s Freedom Box

This week in class it’s all about summarizing plot and conflict and resolution. As always, I present the essential questions, learning objectives, and success criteria (found on my reading comprehension anchor charts) to begin this lesson. My first step in teaching this skill is introducing the vocabulary (exposition/introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution). I like to do this with Flocabulary’s video and vocab game. For my fifth graders, this isn’t a totally new concept, so the song and vocab game is great for a reintroduction or review to jog their memories.

On day two, comes conflict and resolution. This is also not a new concept for them, so what I did this week was start by reading our mentor text book aloud the whole way through. While listening, my students were responsible for sketchnoting and preparing for a discussion of all of the challenges the character faces throughout the story. We discuss all of the challenges so that we can get back to the main confict – this is the thing that stops the character from getting what they want. Then they completed an SSWBST. That is, a Setting, Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then. That’s day two.

Next up, we will summarize the important events in the story using a plot diagram. Part of the success criteria for this skill is that students can distinguish between important versus interesting events/details in the story. For this lesson, I will give the students a blank plot diagram (labeled with the vocabulary) and a set of events/details cards. The students will cut apart the events/details cards and sort them by important versus interesting. This will be a collaborative effort to encourage discussion and student-led learning. Of course, we will share our thinking as a class to help other groups that may need the extra discussion from others in order to weed out some of the interesting details. With only the important events left, the collaborative groups will arrange these on their blank plot diagrams. To end this lesson, the students will then help me do the same with my own events and plot diagram, so that any misunderstandings can be discussed as a group. You can get a copy of that free activity by clicking on this link or on the image below.

To finish off my summarizing lessons for the week, we will use the plot diagrams to write a 3-5 sentence summary of the book. The objective is to paraphrase to summarize the important events of the story. This will be a modeled lesson for me this week so that my students can hear the thought process behind taking the author’s words and making them my own to convey the same meaning.

To continue this lesson, I will repeat these same lesson plans with a different story. This will either be done in differentiated small groups, or again as a whole group without collaborative groups, and taken as a formative assessment to drive future small group instruction and intervention.

I hope this lesson resource and idea is helpful for your own reading instruction! And as always, contact me with any questions about this lesson plan! Happy Teaching, friends!

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