Lesson Plan

Summary Writing with Big Ideas

Before students can respond to literature critically, they must have a strong grasp of big ideas and summary writing. Support your ELs in these foundational reading skills by introducing a three-sentence paragraph frame for summary writing.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Five Ways to Respond to Literature lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Five Ways to Respond to Literature lesson plan.



Students will be able to write a response to literature in more than one way.


Students will be able to differentiate between big ideas and details with transition words using graphic organizers and paragraph frames.


(3 minutes)
Summary Writing: Big Ideas vs. DetailsBig Idea SummaryGraphic Organizer Template: Frayer ModelVocabulary Cards: Summary Writing with Big IdeasGlossary: Summary Writing with Big IdeasTeach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives Reference
  • Orally give a summary about a story your students are familiar with. Include information about the main character, plot, conflict, and resolution. For example: "Goldilocks went into the three bears' house and ruined their breakfast, chairs, and beds. When the bears found her, they were angry. Goldilocks ran home and promised to never go back again."
  • Explain that you told a shortened version of the story in your own words. Point out the fact that you focused on big ideas, like who the main characters were, instead of details, like the temperature of the porridge.
  • Tell students that a short retelling that focuses on big ideas is called a summary. Write the key term on the board and tell students that they will practice summarizing with big ideas.
  • Review the language objective in student-friendly terms (e.g., "You will be using graphic organizers and sentence frames to figure out the difference between big ideas and details.").