Summarizing Literary Texts (with a Freebie!)

We've been up to our ears these past few weeks with traditional literature (and LOVING it!), and this week we have been working on summarizing and writing a summary of literary texts. I'm a huge fan of my anchor chart:
I think the triangle is what I like most. I love how my students can visually see the differences in size and sentences when telling the topic, main idea, summary, and retelling the story.

I'm sure most of you have seen the "Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then" organizer for summarizing. I also included "Finally," which I can't claim as an original thought. I'm pretty sure I saw it on Pinterest last year. What I like about including "Finally" is that it gives you the option to add a final detail to wrap it all up. I snapped the above pic before I was done making the anchor chart. I added parentheses around the word "Finally" to show that it's an option, but you don't always need it.

Example: we practiced summarizing with Stone Soup and Town House Country Mouse. With Stone Soup, we needed the "Finally," but with Town Mouse Country Mouse, we didn't.

Here's the graphic organizer I used:
Click the pic to get a copy :)
What I like most about it is the lines at the bottom to write the summary. The first day, we read Stone Soup, filled in the "Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then, (Finally)" together and orally "wrote" our summary. The second day, I read Town Mouse, Country Mouse to the bunnies and they filled in the top portion with a partner. I was going to have them write the summary with their partner, but they gave me that "Whaaaaaa?????" look, so we wrote it together and the bunnies copied it down.  At first I was a little discouraged that my students couldn't take the info in the graphic organizer and write a 2-3 sentence summary, but then I realized we've never done this before, and I need to give them a break! I like that we wrote it together, so my students could see what a quality summary looks like. (Sorry I didn't snap a pic, and I'm too brain fried this Friday to try to remember what it was!)

My plan for next week is to do the same thing we did today (I read aloud, students fill out the Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then, (Finally), and we write the summary together). Then on Tuesday I'll read again and the bunnies will complete the whole page with a partner. I have the book Snow Queen (the inspiration for the movie Frozen, which happens to be Traditional Lit!) on order at the public library, so hopefully it will be in by Tuesday! Then I will use this graphic organizer as homework for my guided reading groups.

These kiddos will be summarizing SUPER STARS by the end of the year, I'm sure of it!!


  1. I love your anchor chart and this graphic organizer. I am definitely going to use it with my higher readers in reading groups.

    I can totally relate to feeling discouraged when my students can't immediately apply something independently. However, it sounds like you were able to turn that moment into a great opportunity for modeling. That's what I always try to do too.

    Have a great weekend!

    Compassionate Teacher

  2. I love this extra practice for summarizing! Awesome ideas!

  3. I am also a fan of your anchor chart! GREAT visual. Thanks for the freebie- left feedback, too!
    Creating a Thoughtful Classroom


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