I have spent the last two weeks working on summarizing with my students. Many of them struggle to write complete sentences so the thought of reading a book, understanding it, picking out the most important details, re-writing them in new words, and writing in complete sentences was more than a little overwhelming for them.
I started by reading a book together and discussing what a summary is. Then I asked them to verbally summarize the story for me. As they spoke, I typed. As expected, the first attempt lacked details. That was labeled as a level 1 summary. I questioned the group to add some more details. With a little tweaking, the level 1 summary became a level 2 summary. We continued this until we also had a level 3 and 4 example. I printed out each summary with room for a picture above it. We added pictures to match the level of the summary.
After this activity, the students really had a clear idea of what a level 4 summary looks like, how to write it, and what to include in it. To help them even further, I gave them a copy of my Somebody wanted...but...so...then organizer (which you can grab for free by clicking on the picture of the organizer below). I gave the students another book in the same series (a Reading a to z book - The Hoppers) and had them try a summary on their own. Kids referenced the example summaries while writing.
Their summaries turned out great! They were not missing any major details (thanks to the organizer) and they added a few extra details because they really wanted to have a 4 star summary.
A students independent summary.
Our summary board with the 4 examples and some of the kids finished work.