Overview: Introduce the process for writing a summary of a fiction or nonfiction text that can be repeated and scaffolded all year long. The lesson presents a structured approach to summary writing based on the GIST framework.
Subject: English Language Arts: Reading Literature, Reading Informational Text, Writing
Grades: 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th
Duration: 90 minutes
Related Concepts: Summarizing, Reading Comprehension, Literary Analysis, GIST Framework
Students will be able to:
- Write objective summaries of varying length by engaging in a four-step process to get the gist of a fiction and nonfiction text.
Essential Questions: How can summarizing a text help me understand it more deeply?
Vocabulary: summary, source material, objective, fact, opinion
Common Core Standards Addressed:
- ELA: Reading Literature
- ELA: Reading Informational Text
- Projection system
- Internet access
Watch The Punishable Perils of Plagiarism. It is a good idea to give students either a viewing guide or have some questions written on the board for them the think about while watching. You can use these questions to build on later in the class or to check for understanding. Possible questions could be:
- Who is the video addressing?
- What is the video talking about?
- Where does the crime happen?
- When does the crime happen?
- Why does it happen?
- How does it happen?
The students may not get the answer to all the questions, they don't need to. The point is to introduce the idea and give them the starting point for the GIST approach to summarizing.
Explain to students that one of the best way to avoid plagiarism centered on too many quotes is to know how to summarize efficiently and correctly. A summary is shorter than the text and can range anywhere from one sentence to several pages. The longer the source material, the longer the summary. A summary of a paragraph might be only a sentence while the summary of a novel might be several pages. Summaries all have two main parts:
- The source material
- The answer to the 5Ws and H
(You can find additional explanation from the Writing Session PPT which explains the difference between an everyday summary of a film, event, or show and an academic summary.)
Write the following on the board, or display it with a projector:
Title of the text
Author of the text
Source of the text (if the text is nonfiction or found in an anthology)
Read the text
Fill out the 5Ws and H
Compose your summary using the A+B+C process and the notes you took in step 1 and 3.
Place students in pairs or small groups no larger than four. Begin with a nonfiction article (example found here) or the ones from the Writing Session PPT mentioned earlier. Ultimately choose an article that fits with the trajectory of your class.
Have students read the article with their partner/group and complete steps 1-3. Monitor to ensure students are understanding the process. Before moving on to Step 4, give students the Writing Effective Summaries handout. Walk them through how they would use it by writing your own topic sentence based on an article or story the class has previously read. Then have the partners/groups compose their own topic sentence using the process.
Point out that students may only use a few of their answers from step 3 because the rest are covered in the body of the paragraph. Once students have a paragraph summary, challenge them to reduce it further and write a 20-word summary. Have each pair/group read their shorter summary aloud to the class.
Repeat this process with a piece of fiction like a poem, short story, or excerpt from a larger piece of literature.
Give students a new text, fiction or nonfiction, and go through the process independently.
As an exit ticket, have students compose a 20-word summary of what they learned in class. Check for strong verbs and key information about what was discussed and practiced.
The assessments consist of the summary handout completed with a partner or small group for both a nonfiction and fiction text.
The exit ticket allows the teacher to plan for reteaching or followup lessons based on the quality of the summaries.
Sentence frames can help English Language Learners know what information goes where and what information is needed in a summary.
A shorter list of verbs for a more targeted approach would be beneficial or even a list grouped by synonym with words labeled or marked in a way that helps them know which ones to focus on and master the use of first (critical v. useful or simple v. complex).
The summary can be about a short film clip or video instead of a reading or passage in order to allow students who have difficulty reading to practice summary skills.
Students can take a summary of a story and make it an analysis to demonstrate the difference between the two by building on to the idea of summary using Summary V. Analysis PPT. If the class is reading or starting to read a novel, this could be beneficial and summaries could be practiced throughout by having students compose chapter summaries.
Connect to a lesson on paraphrasing and citation strategies.
Students could go on to write a research paper.
Students can turn their summaries into podcasts like those mentioned here.