Each reading skill you teach your students within the 90-minute reading block should go through three phases of instruction:

  1. A skill is first modeled within whole-class mini-lessons.
  2. Then, the students experiment with the skill in teacher-led, small-group instruction.
  3. After coaching and guiding the students in small groups, the skill is added to an independent literacy station for continued practice.

This three-phase cycle honors the gradual release of responsibility. The scaffold allows teachers to guide students toward independent mastery of difficult reading skills.

Let’s examine an after-reading summarization skill as it is pushed through the cycle.

PHASE 1: Model the skill within a whole-class mini-lesson series.

Introduce the summarization skill known as Somebody…wanted…but…so…then… (SWBST). Explain to the class that these words represent a framework for students to insert details and construct a summary.

Reveal a previously-read and well-known text to students. Model the SWBST framework (e.g., The Empty Pot) using our downloadable pocket-chart cards. Then reveal a second example using a previously-read text. Conclude this initial lesson by facilitating the completion of an all-class SWBST frame with student input (e.g., The Little Red Hen).

Repeat this whole-class lesson over the next several days using a variety of previously-read texts including literature, historical narratives, informational texts, etc. (NOTE: This framework is effective with any informational text structured as a problem/solution.)

PHASE 2: Guide students to experiment with the skill within teacher-led small groups.

Using leveled texts, students will read and orally summarize the key supporting details. Hand each student one of the SWBST pocket-chart cards and conduct a shared summary.

While students are orally summarizing their parts, the teacher scribes the writing onto an enlarged graphic organizer. (NOTE: The graphic organizer can be recreated onto large chart paper, projected using the PDF version, or displayed as a Notebook file on the Smart Board.) This scribing activity teaches students how to record key details within the SWBST graphic organizer.


Graphic Organizer | Icons 1 | Icons 2

SWBST Notebook version
Smartboard file | Icons 1 | Icons 2

PHASE 3: Practice skills within independent literacy stations.

Once students show understanding in whole-class and small-group lessons, it’s time to give them ongoing practice within literacy stations. Examples might include:

  • LISTENING STATION–Students listen to a text and orally summarize it using the SWBST cards.
  • FLUENCY STATION–Partners read and orally summarize a text using the SWBST cards.
  • CLASSROOM LIBRARY–After reading, students individually summarize key details orally using the cards and/or in writing using the graphic organizer.

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