EL Support Lesson

Sentence Structures for Summarizing

In this support lesson, your ELs will use key vocabulary and sentence structures to summarize a story. It can be a stand-alone lesson or used as support for the lesson Comparing and Contrasting Book Series.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theComparing and Contrasting Book SeriesLesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theComparing and Contrasting Book SeriesLesson plan.

Students will be able to identify the two different kinds of book series and list the criteria used to classify them.


Students will be able to summarize a story with sentence structures using keywords and sentence frames.

(1 minute)
Summarizing with Key WordsHot Cross Buns: Read to RememberStory of the Three Little PigsVocabulary Cards: Sentence Structures for SummarizingGlossary: Sentence Structures for SummarizingTeach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives Reference
  • Tell students that today they will be learning some sentence structures that will help them summarize stories. Remind them that a summary tells the main idea of a book, like the main characters and the main events in the story.
  • Explain that in order to compare books or series, they need to understand the main idea in each book.
(8 minutes)
  • Use vocabulary cards to introduce the definitions for the words SummaryAnd Main idea.
  • Tell students that they will be studying some keywords that will help them write summaries.
  • Hand out the worksheet Summarizing with Key Words.
  • Read the definitions for each of the five terms in section one ("somebody," "wanted," "but," "so," "then"). Then, model the activity by drawing a picture for the first word, "somebody" (e.g., a person).
  • Instruct students to work with a partner to come up with pictures or symbols that will help them remember the remaining four terms.
  • Invite students to share their drawings with the class.
(8 minutes)
  • Tell students that they will be studying sentence structures with specific keywords that will help them summarize stories.
  • Review the directions for the second section of the Summarizing with Key Words worksheet. Instruct students to complete the worksheet with a partner.
  • Call on volunteers to read their completed sentence frames aloud.
  • Ask students to share the strategies they used to determine which part of the story matched with each keyword. Provide a sentence frame for students to use during the discussion (e.g., "I could tell that the keyword ____Matched with ____Because ____.").
  • Support students in understanding that they must sometimes change the wording of a text to fit into the sentence frames (e.g., "he hoped" should change to "he wanted"). Explain that, in a text, the keywords will not always be present, so students will have to paraphrase or write the summary in their own words.
  • Remind students that when put together these sentences form a short summary that tells about the main idea of the story.
(10 minutes)
  • Hand out the worksheet Hot Cross Buns: Read to Remember. Review the directions and read the story aloud to students as they follow along.
  • Tell students to talk with a partner and identify the main idea of the story so that they can complete the organizer.
  • Write a paragraph frame on the board that reads: "____Wanted ____, but ____. So, ____. Then, ____."
  • Have students fill out the paragraph frame independently in the section labeled "Summary." Then, allow them to discuss their answers with their partner before calling on a volunteer to read their paragraph aloud.


  • Pre-teach additional vocabulary terms that students will see within texts during the lesson, like "determined" and "recorder."
  • Allow beginning ELs to use bilingual resources to define new words throughout the lesson.
  • Strategically pair beginning ELs with more advanced ELs or students who speak the same home language.


  • During the discourse level focus, challenge advanced ELs to write sentences using word banks as supports rather than sentence frames.
  • Allow advanced ELs to utilize a glossary, thesaurus, and dictionary for help with unfamiliar words.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions. Ask advanced ELs to add on, rephrase, or clarify what their peers say in class discussion.
  • Have advanced ELs repeat instructions and key vocabulary while summarizing important information for the class.
(5 minutes)
  • Read a familiar story aloud, like "The Three Little Pigs."
  • Hand out small personal whiteboards to each student.
  • On the board, write a part of the story, like "the wolf kept blowing down their houses."
  • Instruct students to write the keyword that shows what part of the story you've written (e.g., "but"). Scan student responses to gauge understanding. (Note: when students have identified the part of the story, label it with the keyword and leave it on the board.)
  • Repeat until all five keywords have been used.
  • Hand out an index card and have students write a summary of the story using the keywords and the phrases you have written on the board. Tell students to underline the keywords in their summary.
  • Collect student summaries as exit cards.
(2 minutes)
  • Tell students that summarizing a story is a good way to understand the main idea.
  • Explain that as fifth graders they will be expected to compare stories that are similar. Writing a short summary for each story they are comparing can make the task easier.

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