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Summarizing Fiction... Somebody Wanted But So Then

Thursday, September 26, 2019
Have you ever heard of the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" summarizing strategy? If you have, I would be interested to hear your opinion of this strategy. When I have talked to people about this summarizing approach in the past, it seems to elicit strong opinions- they either love it or hate it. I must confess... for several years I leaned toward the "strongly dislike" end of this spectrum. However, I recently changed my tune and have come to truly appreciate this strategy. Today, I'm going to tell you about how my change in attitude came about, and I'm going to share a mentor text lesson with you. (If you're short on time, feel free to skip to the mentor text section. Also, full disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.)
Writing a summary is simple when you use the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" summarizing strategy. This blog post contains a summarizing fiction anchor chart and a mentor text lesson idea!


My Personal Experience with the SWBST Strategy

I first learned of this strategy when I attended a teacher-inservice meeting several years ago. Initially, I was intrigued. The examples shared by the presenter were strong summaries! Plus, I liked the idea of having a prescribed "formula" where you just plug in each element. However, when I took this approach back to my classroom and prepared to use it with students, I struggled with it... a lot. Two problems kept holding me back from embracing this strategy. First, I realized that when I used the SWBST strategy, I had to leave out some pretty significant details. Yes, I knew summaries were supposed to be short, but I kept thinking that some details were just too important to skip! Second, I kept running into examples where the SWBST "formula" did not work, and this left me feeling frustrated and confused. Needless to say, I ultimately decided against using the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" strategy, and opted instead for a different approach.

Recently, however, I read a book (Reading Nonfiction by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst) where they devoted an entire section of their book to a version of the SWBST strategy. It renewed my interest in the approach. As I dug deeper, I realized that building a summary based on the words "Somebody Wanted But So Then" did not provide quite enough support for me. Once I found some anchor questions to accompany each word, I began to experience a lot more success when I used the strategy.

Just as I was reacquainting myself with this approach, a teacher just happened to contact me and ask if I would ever consider making a set of summarizing fiction tri-folds using the Somebody Wanted But So Then" summarizing strategy. It felt like fate at the time, and I decided that I needed to give it a try. Much to my surprise, I was able to overcome the two obstacles that blocked me several years earlier. I realized that I needed to "get over" my love for details, and that they really should be extremely limited in a summary. As for the times when the SWBST strategy fell short, I eventually came to the conclusion that at those times, students can start by applying the SWBST strategy, but that it's also okay to add in critical information that might not fit into the "formula". (If you would like to view an example of how I address the notion of adding critical information that does not fit the SWBST formula with my students, check out the preview of my Summarizing PowerPoint.)

It took a few years, but now I can say that I am comfortable with the "Somebody Wanted But Then So" summarizing strategy. In fact, I now look forward to teaching this topic to students!

A Mentor Text Lesson

This lesson is designed to occur fairly early in your summarizing fiction unit. Personally, I would introduce the concept of summarizing fiction by using my PowerPoint on Day 1, and this lesson would happen on Day 2. At the beginning of class, I would ask the students to recall the name of the summarizing strategy we learned yesterday. Then, I would ask students to recall the anchor question that goes with each element. As students share, I would write their answers on the anchor chart, leaving space between each section. Therefore, when we are done reviewing, this is what the anchor chart would look like:

Writing a summary is simple when you use the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" summarizing strategy. This blog post contains a summarizing fiction anchor chart and a mentor text lesson idea!


Next, I would read aloud Carnivores, by Aaron Reynolds. This is a fun picture book that appeals to upper elementary students because of the author's clever humor. The three main characters feel hurt and left out because the rest of the animal kingdom fears them, so they try to change their carnivorous ways.
Writing a summary is simple when you use the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" summarizing strategy. This blog post contains a summarizing fiction anchor chart and a mentor text lesson idea!
Click HERE to check this book out on Amazon.
Writing a summary is simple when you use the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" summarizing strategy. This blog post contains a summarizing fiction anchor chart and a mentor text lesson idea!

Writing a summary is simple when you use the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" summarizing strategy. This blog post contains a summarizing fiction anchor chart and a mentor text lesson idea!

After reading the book, I would return to the anchor chart, asking students to answer each question. Therefore, when finished, the anchor chart would look like this:

Summarizing Fiction Anchor Chart- Use the Somebody Wanted But So Then strategy when teaching your students to write a summary.


Once the anchor questions are answered, writing the summary is a breeze!
Writing a summary is simple when you use the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" summarizing strategy. This blog post contains a summarizing fiction anchor chart and a mentor text lesson idea!

If you happen to be searching for resources you can use when teaching students to write a summary, feel free to check out my Summarizing Fiction Bundle!
Writing a summary is simple when you use the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" summarizing strategy. This summarizing fiction bundle includes a PowerPoint, a Readers' Theater activity, and 6 practice worksheets.


 Thanks for stopping by!




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Writing a summary is simple when you use the "Somebody Wanted But So Then" summarizing strategy. This blog post contains a summarizing fiction anchor chart and a mentor text lesson idea!

Notice and Note Nonfiction Signposts: FREE Resources

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
When I read Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst a few years ago, I was spellbound. In that first signpost book, they explained how teachers can introduce six signposts to their students that will guide them in identifying and analyzing meaningful moments in fiction literature. I was such a huge fan of that book that I wrote a blog post about it and created a handful of free supplemental resources for teachers who had also read the book and wanted to implement the strategies into their instruction. (Click here to read the post that focuses on the six fiction signposts.)

At that time, I vowed to read their new nonfiction signpost book as soon as I had a chance, and to create supplemental free materials to accompany that book, as well. Needless to say, it took me a whole lot longer to get this done than I originally planned. Thanks to the teachers who emailed me over the past few years asking about these... a few weeks ago, I finally decided to make reading Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies a priority! (I don't know about you, but for me, when it comes to reading professional books, I can always seem to think of something else that I "need" to do before I can make time to sit down and read the book.)

As I anticipated, I was very impressed with their nonfiction signpost book. I am convinced that teaching these signposts will result in students who go beyond a "read-once-and-discuss" approach, and they will acquire a much deeper understanding of that nonfiction text than their peers who are not exposed to these signposts.
FREE Notice and Note Nonfiction Posters and Task Cards! This blog post includes resources and passages to supplement the strategies outlined in the book Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note by Beers and Probst.


Click on the image below (which includes an Amazon affiliate link) to check out the book. It is divided into four parts. Part 1 focuses on issues to consider when teaching students to read nonfiction. It includes research findings and addresses many challenges faced by teachers and students alike.
Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies by Beers and Probst: This blog post contains free supplemental classroom resources to accompany these strategies!

Part 2 focuses on the importance of stance. The authors share three Big Questions that encourage an attentive stance when it comes to reading nonfiction:

  • What surprised me?
  • What did the author think I already knew?
  • What challenged, changed, or confirmed what I already knew?


Part 3 focuses on the five signposts. This is my favorite part, as it contains 5 well-crafted classroom-tested lessons that you can use to introduce the nonfiction signposts to your students.

  

Finally, Part 4 contains a treasure trove of seven unique strategies that students can use when reading nonfiction gets tough. Some of these were strategies that I have used with students many times in the past (like KWL 2.0), but the authors included some insightful thoughts on how to best use the strategies with nonfiction texts. Others were almost totally new to me (like Genre Reformulation).

If you decide to read the book and introduce these nonfiction signposts to your students, feel free to download the posters and task cards I created. (Just click on the cover image below to download them from my TpT store!) My intention is for the task cards to be used as a review activity after all of the signposts have been individually introduced.
FREE Notice and Note Nonfiction Posters and Task Cards! This blog post includes resources and passages to supplement the strategies outlined in the book Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note by Beers and Probst.

I included an answer sheet, but please remember that the answers shown are only possible answers. As long as students write a plausible answer that refers back to the text, I would most likely accept it as correct. 

FREE Notice and Note Nonfiction Posters and Task Cards! These FREE resources and passages are designed to supplement the strategies outlined in the book Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note by Beers and Probst.

I would love to hear about your experience with introducing signposts to your students. Feel free to comment below. Thanks for stopping by!



Pin for future reference:
FREE Notice and Note Nonfiction Posters and Task Cards! This blog post includes resources and passages to supplement the strategies outlined in the book Reading Nonfiction: Notice and Note by Beers and Probst.

Teaching Plot with a Picture Book... with a freebie!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019
What is the first ELA topic you address each school year? When I co-taught in 5th grade classrooms, we always began by teaching PLOT ELEMENTS. I would introduce the topic with my PowerPoint on the first day, but on the second day I would dig out a picture book!

When teaching students about plot elements, I highly recommend creating a plot diagram anchor chart for a picture book you've read with your students. This blog post contains a lesson idea and a free student printable!

Picture books are perfect for teaching plot elements in grades 4-6. As we all know, upper elementary and middle school students still love picture books. Another benefit is that they are short- in one class period you can read an entire picture book and plot the story on a plot diagram. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, Margie Palatini is my go-to author when I am looking for picture books to use with my upper elementary students, so I chose one of her hilarious books to use in this plot lesson.


Before class, I draw a basic plot diagram on an anchor chart (the black line only). Then, as soon as class begins, I ask the students to recall what they learned yesterday to help me label the various parts of the plot diagram.

Next, I explain that I am going to read aloud a picture book to them, and when we are done, we are going to plot the story on our anchor chart. (This is also when I show them the book cover and tell them that Margie Palatini is my all-time favorite author of picture books because I am constantly laughing out loud when I read her books… which they are about to witness for themselves! I tell them that most kindergartners and first graders would enjoy this book, but a lot of the humor would “go over their heads”. As fifth graders, though, I think that they will really enjoy this book and fully appreciate the author’s humor. This usually causes my students to sit up a little taller and they become very good listeners! (Amazon affiliate link follows.)

After we finish the book, students help me write sentences that summarize the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution of the book on the anchor chart.


Plot Diagram Anchor Chart: When teaching students about plot elements, I highly recommend creating a plot diagram anchor chart for a picture book you've read with your students. This blog post contains a lesson idea and a free student printable!


Finally, I give each student the exit ticket shown below. (Click HERE to download it for FREE!) I also set the anchor chart facedown on a table until all students have finished their exit tickets.

I ask students to independently label each box on the plot diagram with its formal name, and write a short definition to explain what typically happens during each part of the plot. After class, I scan the exit tickets to check for understanding. Students who completed the exit ticket activity with ease are allowed to tackle my plot task cards independently the next day, while the classroom teacher and I work with small groups of students who found the exit ticket more challenging. (Typically, the classroom teacher quickly meets with students who had one or two minor errors on the exit ticket, while I work with students who appear to need a higher level of support.) The plot tri-folds pictured at the end of this post is my go-to resource for working with a small group.

If you are looking for additional plot activities to use with your upper elementary and middle school students, I invite you to visit my TpT store and check out my resources for teaching students about plot. Click on any of the images below, or click HERE to view a complete list.

These plot task cards include four original short stories! Students complete a plot diagram for each narrative.

Use this plot PowerPoint to teach your students about plot elements. After being introduced to the elements of a plot diagram, students will read a short story and fill out a plot diagram. It includes a companion handout!

These four plot tri-folds target the skill of analyzing the plot progression in a book, story, or reading passage. Use these plot elements tri-folds over the course of 4 days to provide targeted instruction on this topic.


Thanks for stopping by!





Pin for future reference:
When teaching students about plot elements, I highly recommend creating a plot diagram anchor chart for a picture book you've read with your students. This blog post contains a lesson idea and a free student printable!

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