Lesson plan

Create a Nonfiction Text Summary

Give your students a chance to hone their reading comprehension skills by creating nonfiction text summaries in this introductory lesson.
Need extra help for EL students? Try theSummarize a Nonfiction TextPre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try theSummarize a Nonfiction TextPre-lesson.

Students will be able to summarize the key elements of a nonfiction text.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
Nonfiction Text Summary OrganizerNonfiction Text Summary Template
  • Gather students to the rug for the start of the lesson.
  • Ask students if they know what FictionIs and allow a few students to share out. Answers might include, "Fiction is about something pretend/imaginary/not realistic."
  • Ask students what NonfictionIs and allow a few students to share out. Answers might include, "Nonfiction is about something real," "It is sometimes called informational text," or "You learn something from it," etc.
  • Say, “Today we are going to learn how to create a summary of a nonfiction text. A SummaryIs a short explanation of a whole text. A summary is different than retelling a story because you are only going to focus on the big ideas and share what you find most important about what you have read."
  • Ask students, “Why do you think we might use a summary?” Answers might include, "To share information with others," "To keep track of what we read," or "To help us pay attention to what we read."
(10 minutes)
  • Read aloud the introduction and first page from the text Caterpillars, Bugs, and ButterfliesBy Mel Boring (or a similar nonfiction text).
  • As you read, pause to think aloud. You can say something like, “It seems like this book is about caterpillars, bugs, and butterflies because they all have something in common: change. Hmm. This sounds like it might be the Main idea, or what the book is about and why.”
  • Continue to read, pausing to notice important words, facts, and text features.
(10 minutes)
  • Project the Nonfiction Text Summary Organizer on the whiteboard/smartboard so that you can write on it and the class can easily read as you write.
  • Fill in the beginning of the worksheet quickly (title of the book, author’s name) while telling the class what you are doing and showing them where you found the title/author information on the text.
  • Under the section titled “Main Idea,” and ask the students what they think the main idea was. Have them pair-share with a partner and then share out. Record answers on the worksheet.
  • Next, ask the class what three facts they learned when listening to you read. Ask them to think of a fact and give a thumbs up when they have one. Call on 3–5 students to share their facts. Record.
  • Open the pages you read and ask students which text features they notice on the page, remind students the names of key text features (caption, photo/illustration, titles, headings, diagram, etc.) as needed.
  • Ask the class what was one thing they learned while listening to the text, and choose one answer to record.
  • Explain that you just created a nonfiction text summary and that now students will get to practise creating their own summaries using a nonfiction text of their choosing.
(25 minutes)
  • Show the students a variety of grade appropriate nonfiction texts (and/or pass out a photocopy of one page from the Caterpillar, Bugs, and ButterfliesText or a similar text) that all students will use.
  • Project the worksheet titled Nonfiction Text Summary Organizer that you filled out in the previous section, and explain that now you will pass out a worksheet to each student and they will complete the text summary independently.

Support:For students who need more scaffolding to complete the Nonfiction Text Summary Organizer, create a strategic student pair to work together or bring a small group to work with the teacher. For students who need additional support, provide them with the Nonfiction Text Summary Template to use during the independent work time.

Enrichment:After completing the Nonfiction Text Summary Organizer, provide advanced students with additional time to read nonfiction texts and create an additional summary using their own format.

(5 minutes)

Collect the Nonfiction Text Summary Organizer worksheets and assess whether students were able to correctly identify and record each part of the summary.

(5 minutes)
  • After the independent work time has concluded, ask students to return to the rug and place their finished worksheets in front of them. Ask for a few volunteers to share out parts of their summaries with the class (for example, asking for a student to share one of their three facts, main idea, etc.). Note what students did well. Highlight each part of the summary as students share to review with the whole class.
  • Discuss student questions as needed. Close by saying, “A summary is a great tool to use when you want to gather information as you read, share information with others, and capture the big ideas from a nonfiction text.”

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