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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Nonfiction Summary

Our state test places a large emphasis on the difference between the structure of a summary for fiction and nonfiction texts. As a result, I developed this lesson to help my fifth grade students with this challenging concept. I used this anchor chart to introduce the basic differences between the two types of summaries. Students glued a smaller copy of the anchor chart into their reader's notebooks for future reference.

We discussed that all summaries include the main idea of the text, the most important ideas, key words, and must be in our own words - no copying! To begin, we focused on the nonfiction summary, which seems to be easier for the students to grasp. I selected several great nonfiction articles to practice this skill. For the first article, we read and discussed the text together. Then I showed the students an example summary I had written. We went through the summary and identified the main idea and a sentence explaining each subsection. Then, we circled all the key vocabulary words that I used. For this part, I used the article "Masters of Disguise."

This is an article from Scholastic News that I found at I love using articles from Scholastic News because they have clearly labeled vocabulary words and divide the article into labeled subsections. For the next article, we completed the summary together in students' reader's notebooks. We used the article "Bionic Animals." This is another high-interest article from Scholastic News, which can be found at

Students completed the third summary independently. For this part of the lesson, I used the article "I Use a Robot to Go to School." (You guessed it! Another article from Scholastic News that can be found at

Students wrote their independent summaries in their reader's notebooks. Once students had proofread their summaries, they switched with another student. This student used a post-it note to evaluate the other student's summary. They wrote about strengths and weaknesses within the summary and then placed the post-it in the student's reader's notebook. When finished, I reviewed all the summaries. Stay tuned for fiction summaries!



  1. Hi Amy, I love your site!!! How do you select the articles you are going to use? I have gone onto EBSCO, but have not seen the photos included with the text. Any advice would be helpful and much appreciated.You are an inspiration:-)

    1. I usually select my articles primarily based upon reading level (lexile) and then by topic. It sounds like you are looking at HTML versions of the articles. Make sure to only look at full pdfs. Those will have the pictures. I made a tutorial to help navigate EBSCO. Let me know if you still have questions after watching!

      EBSCO Tutorial


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