Monday, October 8, 2012

Summaries vs. Retellings FREEBIE!

As many of you already know, I am finishing up my FINAL grad school course as we speak.  I may or may not have a slight case of "senioritis".  Who knew that you could come down with THAT in GRAD SCHOOL?!

Anyway, I'm spending the day off working on projects and papers to try to get ahead and get DONE!  As I was sifting through my paperwork, I found a graphic organizer that I've been meaning to share with all of you!  Disclaimer:  This was NOT my brain child.  I WISH I had thought of it though, because it is BRILLIANT!

We hit summarizing pretty hard in third grade... right out of the gates.  Most of the kids give GREAT retellings... but they struggle with writing concise summaries.  Every single year, I spend LOTS of time teaching them the difference.  I've always relied on using familiar fairy tales like "The Three Little Pigs" to do a retelling since 99.9% of my students have heard it many times by third grade.  Then, after hooking them... by the hairs on their chinny chin chins... I summarize it.  I give them the gist of the story.  Short & sweet.  Then, I always ask, what was the difference between my retelling and my details?  Someone is always quick to point out that my summary is kind of similar to giving the main idea... and I leave lots of details out.  This has worked pretty well for me, but friends, just wait till you see this organizer!

My professor is absolutely fabulous, first of all.  I spend a lot of time reading about reading, because I have a bit of a love affair with literacy, so I don't always hear NEW ideas, per se, but I definitely gain perspective and understand more deeply.  Every now and then, she comes out of nowhere with some crazy-brilliant-fabulous idea... and this is just one example.

Click the picture to download!

This is how it works!  Before reading a book, pass out the graphic organizer.  Take a moment to show your students how it is set up... and how there are lines for each story element.  Next, tell the students to jot down details that they want to remember on the lines outside of the diamond as you read.  (I think it would be great to add a retelling afterward... to have the kiddos turn and talk to each other and share their retellings of the story after looking over their notes.)  Then,  ask them to jot down one sentence in each section of the diamond to describe the setting, the characters, the problem, and the solution.  After that. have the students cut or fold around the diamond to remove the extraneous details.  Explain that this is how a summary works.  A summary tells the main points or the gist without the extra details.  Viola!  A visual representation of summaries!  If you've been following along for a while, you know how much I love tangible concrete models for comprehension!  Isn't this fabulous!?  It's the best thing I've learned all semester!  I've retyped it to share with all of you, so if you want a copy, click on the picture to snag it for FREE!  Let me know what you think! :) 


  1. This is great! I'm teaching summary right now, and I think this will really help those kids who struggle with cutting out the unnecessary details. Thanks for sharing!

    Yay Third Grade

  2. Thank you! Seriously, summarizing and retelling is KILLING ME. Granted, I'm just homeschooling mine so I don't have 25 kids, but my 3rd grader is just not getting it (bangs head on wall). I think this will really help!

  3. This is excellent, thanks so much Amanda!! :)

  4. I love this idea. Some of the kids can never tell the difference between telling EVERYTHING and telling the IMPORTANT things. Thank you!!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  5. Thank you for offering this as a freebie! It looks great!
    Teaching With Style

  6. Wow what a great resource! Thank you! Summarizing seems like something that should be easy, but my kids struggle with it!

  7. This is awesome!! I love the physical act of cutting away the details. My thirdsters always struggle with summary year after year and I finally feel like I have something that will make me feel confident in teaching it and help cement the concept. Thank you SO MUCH for offering it for free!! You are the BEST!!

    -Kelly K

  8. This is great for my ELL kiddos too! Thanks for sharing!

    Mary Beth
    Run Teacher, Run

  9. This is an amazing FREEBIE!!! Common Core gives you a great big hug. Stop by our blog and see what we have going on. We are having a discussion with the best way to level books for first graders. HELP!!! Any great bloggers out there...please stop by...looking for comments!
    The Kindergarten Goonies

  10. I agree! It is brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing this resource.

    Creative Lesson Cafe

  11. I love this. I will be using it tomorrow!

  12. Thanks for this, it's wonderful. Sometimes summarizing is like pulling teeth. I think this gives a great visual.

    Alicia @ Today's Objective

  13. Amanda,

    I wanted to let you know that I actually used this today for the story "Pushing Up the Sky" in Reading Street. The kids LOVED it!!! When they saw me actually cut away the details on my model, it clicked. When they were able to cut away the details themselves, it clicked even more. It worked well because the story had a clear problem and solution. I cannot thank you enough for this freebie!!!! I can't wait to use it with other fiction stories!

    I am attempting to start a blog... it's in its bare beginnings now, and I don't know all the rules of the bloggy world yet... can I share this idea on my blog (with a link to you, of course!!!) so other teachers can have this freebie??? I'll wait to post anything until I have your permission. :)

    Thanks, again!!!

    Kelly K

  14. Wow! What can I say... what looks so simple is right on the money! Thank you for sharing such a valuable resource. I can't wait to try it out with my kiddos. Just today we were working on figuring out the difference between both.
    Thanks again,
    :0) Melissa
    More Time 2 Teach

  15. This is an awesome resource! What a smart idea...and so glad to hear other upper elementary teachers have to focus on summary vs retelling!

  16. I love your blog! I am a new follower and I would love for you to stop by mine!


  17. I will have to tell you that I love this graphic organizer! I have used it with students and have it displayed on my wall. Great for when they have to retell during Dibels!! Love it!

  18. I recently learned about a new strategy called" Somebody wants but so........
    I made it into a gaphic organizer (a table)
    Somebody: character
    Wants: action to be taken
    But: problem
    So: solution
    My kids used ot struggle with summary. They loved this strategy (no details here) short and to the point.