Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Little Piece of Gold

I am starting to feel the effects of the fall season on my allergies. Blah. My body never wants to cooperate when I have a list of things to get done! I had several things that I want to share, but in case I run out of steam, I wanted to be sure to share this one little piece of amazingness I found last week.

Amanda over at One Extra Degree is always full of wonderful ideas. If you do not follow her already, you need to head on over and take care of that right now!! She is a third grade teacher who uses Reading Street so you can bet I am her number one fan!

One of the things I struggle with every year is teaching kids how to write a quality summary. I have tried several things- the personal anecdotes about vacations- including ALL of the details about what I did and then cutting it down to the most important parts, the anchor charts that explain how to write a summary using the beginning, middle, and end, etc. Although the kiddos seemed to nod their heads in understanding, I felt like the concept never was truly clear.

Intro... the Summary vs. Retelling graphic organizer!!! (imagine trumpets trumpeting in the background!)

This little baby finally gave me the visual I needed to show the kids the difference between retelling and summarizing. I only wish I had taken pictures during this lesson!!!!

Last week, we read the story "Pushing Up the Sky" from Reading Street. We started filling out our graphic organizer by listing all of the details we could about each section of the kite (the setting, characters, problem, and solution).  I talked to the kids about how remembering details is important when you are retelling a whole story.
Then, it was time to fill in the center of the kite. We talked about how we needed to look at all of our details and condense them into something that captured the essence of what we had listed. If we only had a short amount of time and we had to capture the important parts of the story, we needed to figure out how to whittle it down a bit. To do this, we wrote one short phrase or sentence for each section and recorded it in the middle of the "kite." (I'm calling the middle of the organizer the 'kite' for lack of a better term :)) For example, the story had several characters- seven chiefs, a mother, a boy, a tall man-you get the picture- which were all listed on the outside of the kite. We discussed how all of these characters had something in common- they all lived in villages. Thus, we called them 'the villagers.' Easy peasy. The only thing we wrote on summary kite for characters was 'the villagers.' We repeated the process with each of the other sections. Then came the exciting part!!

Once the entire GO is filled in, it's time to bring out the scissors! We cut away all the extraneous details and we were left with just the short phrases and sentences in the middle. This left us with everything we needed to write a quality summary! Brilliant! The physical act of cutting away the details really helped hammer home the point of summarizing- plus the kiddos got to use the scissors- 100% engagement!  On the back of the kite, we took the information we had in the organizer and wrote a paragraph that summarized the story.

I truly feel confident that this process helped the kiddos understand what I mean when I say "retell" and what I mean when I say "summarize." I also feel confident that the more we practice this process, the better summarizers they will be!

Wanna know the best part of all of this?! Amanda is giving this wonderful tool for FREE! Yes! Free! Head on over to pick up your own copy and don't forget to leave a little love for Amanda while you are there! She has some great pictures of how this looked during her lesson. She used it with "My Rows and Piles of Coins."

I may or may not be back later to share other things from the past weeks. Our Texans are on Sunday Night Football tonight! So excited!!  Happy Sunday, everybody!!


  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Kelly! :) It is so nice to know that the GO helped your kiddos grasp the concept! It's so nice to know that what we share in Blogland impacts students around the country. That's what it's all about!

    1. No problem, Amanda!!! You are such an inspiration to me! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your sharing your awesomeness with everyone. It is amazing to think about the impact! I hope you start feeling better soon!!!


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