Learning Center


Summarize Stories with Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then

November 12, 2018

A strong and succinct story summary must include the essential story elements. A frame can support students in writing an organized and complete narrative summary.

  • Main character = Somebody
  • Character motivation = Wanted
  • Conflict = But
  • Rising Action/Climax = So
  • Falling Action/Resolution = Then

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).

The Empty Pot

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.)

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

Smartboard file | Icons 1 | Icons 2

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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