EL Support Lesson

Summarize a Nonfiction Text

Use this lesson to help your ELs understand how to write effective nonfiction text summaries. It can be a stand-alone lesson or a support lesson to the Create a Non-fiction Text Summary lesson plan.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Create a Nonfiction Text Summary lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Create a Nonfiction Text Summary lesson plan.

Students will be able to analyze academic vocabulary and condense nonfiction text into 3–4 sentence summaries.


Students will be able to use the most important parts of a nonfiction text to write a summary.

(2 minutes)
  • Access prior knowledge of summaries by writing it on the board and asking for volunteers to define.
  • Complete a Frayer Model with the students for the term summary and check student comprehension throughout by asking them to orally repeat the definition or provide examples.
  • Tell students that today they will analyze new words, sentences, and a paragraph to help them understand how to write a short summary.
(8 minutes)
  • Explain to students that today they'll be learning how to write a summary of a nonfiction paragraph, but first they'll need to learn new vocabulary terms. Present the vocabulary terms from the vocabulary cards and glossary. Use the visuals as you define each word and allow students to discuss how the visual relates to the new word.
  • Remind students of how to complete a Frayer Model.
  • Assign groups of 2–3 students to complete a Frayer Model for an assigned Tier 1, 2, or 3 vocabulary word.
  • Allow students to create and share aloud their own sentences with the new vocabulary words. For example: "Chickens lay eggs."
(8 minutes)
  • On the document camera or projector, display the Make a Summary: Butterflies worksheet and read the text aloud. Ask volunteers to reread each sentence and have students pick out any unfamiliar words or phrases.
  • Have students discuss and share the definition of noted unfamiliar words in think-pair-share partnerships.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the Make a Summary: Butterflies worksheet, read it to the students, and ask them to circle the new vocabulary words.
  • Ask the students to tell you what they think the main idea of the paragraph is while you write their responses on the board.
  • Ask students to discuss the most important parts versus the supporting details of the text with partners.
  • Demonstrate summarizing the first 2–3 sentences of the text into one shorter sentence.
  • Ask for volunteers to help you write a second summarizing sentence.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students work in pairs to complete the Make a Summary: Butterflies worksheet. Write sentence frames or stems on the board as needed.
  • Assess students' understanding of summaries by evaluating their accuracy of their sentence writing and participation throughout the class.
(3 minutes)
  • Reiterate that students summarize texts so they can understand what they're reading and convey the text efficiently to others. Ask a student to define the term summary once more.
  • As an exit ticket, distribute index cards or sticky notes to students and ask them to complete one of the following sentence starters using at least three of the vocabulary words from the lesson today:
    • I understand that a summary is ____.
    • I don't understand ____.
    • I need more information about ____.
  • Allow students to volunteer their responses and use them as an assessment of how to continue with your teaching of summaries.

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