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Support summary writing with frames based on a text’s structure
april 17, 2017
Before readers can generate a nonfiction summary, they must determine the original text’s organizational pattern. If the text is written as a compare-contrast, the summary should be organized similarly. If the original passage presents a sequence of information, the summary should be a step-by-step roll out, too. This is the notion of an objective summary—the reader imitates the author’s organization in his succinct retell.
While any story can be summarized using a single frame, nonfiction summaries are more complex. Since the text structures vary, so will the organization of each one’s summary paragraph. Provide students with a set of words and phrases and teach them how they serve as a framework for a different text’s structure.
- Procedural structure: In the beginning, the problem was, next, then, after that, finally
- Descriptive structure: …is the most important…, an example, another reason…, another illustration…, therefore…, …is important because…
- Compare-Contrast structure: …and…are alike…, both have…, they differ in…, …as well as…, another way they are…, only…is the …-est
- Cause-Effect structure: The reason…happened…, if…hadn’t happened…, one effect of…, another result…, due to…occurring…, this explains why…
- Problem-Solution structure: Somebody (person or object), …wanted…, …but…, so…, then…
Download each frame and cut the transition strips apart. Model writing several summaries where you are using the sentence starters/transition words to link facts and details together. Do this first with just spoken summaries in oral writing before modeling it in writing.
Eventually, move this skill into your small-group instruction for students to practice. Give each student in the group one of the pieces to the summary frame to find the important information and contribute to a shared summary.
You could also place appropriate transition strips at various literacy stations for students to use as a guide when jotting down summaries from texts they are reading independently.