Summarizing Nonfiction Text During a Social Studies Lesson (with a free graphic organizer!)

In the past, teaching students to write nonfiction summaries was probably my least favorite ELA topic to teach.  Why? I didn't feel like I was very good at writing them myself! Narrowing down paragraphs and/or pages of seemingly important information to 2-3 sentences has always been an arduous task for me. (Just ask my husband... I have a knack for leaving looooooong phone messages with tons of unimportant details. When I finish leaving the message, he usually says, "You know, Deb, you could've just said ----".)

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I put off creating Summarizing Nonfiction materials again and again... and again. It was added to my "to do" list two years ago, and it sat there untouched until this past week when I sat down at my computer, took a deep breath, and refused to let my mind wander toward another, more enjoyable topic! 

Once I started, it really wasn't all that bad. In fact, after researching various summarizing strategies, my creative juices started flowing, and I ended up teaching myself how to write a really good nonfiction summary, if I do say so myself!! The anchor chart below sums up the step-by-step process I created:
This anchor chart and teaching strategy will provide your students with the keys to writing a stellar nonfiction summary!
Clip art by A Sketchy Guy.
Step #3 is my favorite. It provides the support my analytical mind needs to start writing a summary. I used this process to write about 25 summaries this past week, and it worked every time. Beyond that, whenever I wrote that first main idea sentence, gleaning the most important details no longer seemed daunting.

When I use this anchor chart in the classroom, I plan to create it with students after I have introduced Summarizing Nonfiction during Language Arts using my PowerPoint, and after my students have had the opportunity to write their own nonfiction summaries using my passages.

I intend to use this anchor chart as part of a Social Studies lesson. I will model how students can use this process to summarize a lesson from their Social Studies textbook. Before class I will have the heading and sentences (in black) already written on the chart paper. After a quick review of the writing nonfiction summaries process, we will read and discuss the lesson.
Writing a Nonfiction Summary Anchor Chart
I used Lesson #4 in Chapter 4 of the 4th grade Pearson social studies text called
My World: Regions of our Country for my anchor chart above.

When we are done reading the 6-page lesson, we will work through the steps on the anchor chart to write a 3-sentence summary. 


Click on the following links to check out my Summarizing Nonfiction resources:
Writing a Nonfiction Summary PowerPoint- It's simple if you just have the right combination!


Finally, if you want to try this method with your own students, feel free to download this graphic organizer.

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A FREE Text Evidence Lesson!

Text Evidence... it's of huge importance in the upper elementary grades! After all, it's the first standard listed for Reading: Literature and Reading: Informational Text in grades 3, 4, and 5. I have copied each grade level's related standard below so that you can see how it progresses as students advance through the grade levels.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.1 and RI.3.1- Ask and answer questions to demonstrate  understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as a basis for answers.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.1 and RI.4.1- Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. 

 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1 and RI.5.1- Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.


As you can see, in 4th and 5th grades, students are expected to be able to answer text questions by pointing to a section of the text...
    1.)  that provides the exact  answer
and 
    2.)  that helps them to infer  an answer.

This sounds a bit confusing, but it is quite simple to teach students this concept by showing them a few passages like the one below. I would place this passage under my document camera, read the passage with my students, and label the questions as follows:
This blog post contains this free text evidence reading passage plus free text evidence bookmarks!
You can download this passage by clicking HERE.
Obviously, the first answer is right there in the second paragraph... students can point directly to the words "roller coaster" to prove their answer. However, to answer the second and third questions correctly, the students must use their inferencing skills.

After this brief discussion, I would pass out the bookmark papers to my students, and tell them that the two types of questions require slightly different sentence starters. 
This blog post contains these free text evidence bookmarks plus a free reading passage!
Download these bookmarks by clicking HERE.
The set of five sentence starters on the left is useful when the answer is stated explicitly in the text. The set of five sentence starters displayed on the right are especially useful when the students have to infer in order to reach the answer, because the answer is not explicitly stated. 

After working together to write answers to the questions above by using the sentence starters on the bookmarks, I would have students cut around the outside box and then fold it in half to create a two-sided bookmark, which can now be used as a reference tool throughout your text evidence unit, and throughout the school year.

In case you are interested, I have created a number of Text Evidence teaching resources that are available in my TpT store.  Just click on the images to take a closer look at them!

Teaching students to find text evidence to support their answers is an important reading strategy and test taking strategy. This post contains a FREE text evidence lesson!  It includes text evidence sentence starters, a free reading passage, and other text evidence activities.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Text-Evidence-PowerPoint-2132106

 Text Evidence Passages

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Teaching students to find text evidence to support their answers is an important reading strategy and test taking strategy. This post contains a FREE text evidence lesson!  It includes text evidence sentence starters, a free reading passage, and other text evidence activities.