EL Support Lesson

Basic Fiction Summaries

This lesson gives students a structure to help them summarize fiction texts. When they are skilled at summarizing, they will be more capable of exploring various fiction genres. Use it as a precursor to Fiction Genres Library Exploration.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theFiction Genres Library ExplorationLesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theFiction Genres Library ExplorationLesson plan.

Students will be able to describe and identify various fictional genres in the classroom or school library.


Students will be able to write a simple summary of a fiction text with key summary phrases using the structured framework of "someone, wanted, but, so, then" and a paragraph frame.

(2 minutes)
Write a Simple SummaryVocabulary Practice: Fiction GenreShort and Sweet SummariesWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives ReferenceTeach Background Knowledge TemplateSimple Fiction SummaryVocabulary Cards: Basic Fiction SummariesGlossary: Basic Fiction SummariesGraphic Organizer Template: Frayer Model
  • Read aloud the language objective and have students repeat it.
  • Tell students that they will learn a framework or strategy for summarizing, or telling the main points of, short fiction texts.
(10 minutes)
  • Inform students that they will first learn the meanings of some new vocabulary words that will help them craft a simple summary.
  • Read aloud each tiered word and provide a student-friendly definition.
  • Display a Frayer Model for the word FictionOn the document camera, and model how to complete each section of the model.
  • Place students into partnerships and hand out Frayer Models to each pair. Assign one of the remaining eight vocabulary words to each pair of students and have them fill out the sheet, including the definition, an illustration, an example, and a non-example.
  • Have each pair of students briefly present their completed Frayer Model to the class.
  • Distribute the Vocabulary practise: Fiction Genre worksheet and have students complete the worksheet independently to check their understanding of the tiered vocabulary words.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain to students that a SummaryShould tell the main parts of a story without telling any small or unimportant details. Tell them that one strategy for writing a short but effective summary is using the Somebody-Wanted-But-So-Then framework.
  • Display the Write a Simple Summary worksheet on the document camera. Go over each part of the framework clearly.
  • Read aloud a short and well-known fairy tale, such as "Little Red Riding Hood." Note: Alternatively, you could show a read-aloud video of the story (see Materials).
  • Model for your students how to fill out the worksheet, only noting the important details from the story.
  • Hand out the Simple Fiction Summary worksheet and a highligther to each student. Read aloud the teaching box. Tell students to highlight the important sentences from the story that they will include in their summary. Remind students to include key sentences that indicate character, setting, problem, and solution.
  • Emphasize the summary phrase bank and explain to students that these summary phrases make it clear to the reader that you are summarizing a story. The phrases provide a clear indicator that the following sentences only include the main elements of the story.
  • Go back to the summary you wrote for "Little Red Riding Hood" and reread it aloud, but this time adding in a summary phrase in the beginning to make the summary clearer.
  • Have students work in partners to read the story on the Simple Fiction Summary worksheet and complete the paragraph frame.
(10 minutes)
  • Hand out the Short and Sweet Summaries worksheet.
  • Ask a student to read the directions aloud. Instruct students to do Part 1 of the worksheet with a partner while highlighting the sentences that contribute to the summary.
  • Circulate to offer help to students as needed.


  • Allow beginning ELs to refer to a word bank with important words and phrases from the story to complete their summaries.
  • Allow beginning ELs who are literate in their home language to use resources such as bilingual dictionaries and glossaries to help them look up the meaning of unknown words in the texts they read.
  • Pair beginning ELs with intermediate or advanced ELs to complete the classwork.
  • Read the stories aloud in a small teacher-led group, pausing to clarify new vocabulary.


  • Encourage advanced ELs to write a summary without the paragraph frame.
  • Ask advanced ELs to rephrase the directions in class. Give them the chance to read aloud their summary first to their classmates.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students read the Short and Sweet Summaries story again before using the table to write a summary independently.
  • Remind students to include a summary phrase from the phrase bank in the previous worksheet.
(3 minutes)
  • Remind students that it is important to be able to summarize a fiction text so that they know what genre the story is and can retell it to another person.
  • Have students briefly read their summary aloud to a partner and choose one sentence starter to share out:
    • "It's important to summarize fiction text because..."
    • "A fictional text is..."
    • "Summarizing can help me figure out what genre a story is because..."

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