I created this mini-unit for two reasons:
1. My students were having difficulty with creating umbrella central ideas and picking out the best evidence from their reading to support them.
2. My students often saw graphic organizers as something very separate than writing. They didn’t understand that the work they put into the graphic organizer was supposed to make their lives EASIER – essentially that they were making a plan for writing.
This unit is specifically designed and CCSS aligned for grades 4 – 6. However, I could see it working for both third and seventh with slight modifications. In this unit, students will closely read several articles (links to articles included) on different, engaging topics and then, utilizing a graphic organizer and a summary-writing “formula,” will write a summary that encompasses a central (or umbrella) idea, main ideas and supporting evidence.
The writing is scaffolded for success. First, students will work with you and their fellow writers to learn about summary through an engaging Prezi and will analyze the different components
of a well-written summary using highlighters. Then, they will write a summary with you to understand how it all goes together (and how it can be built from the graphic organizer).
Finally, each student will write a summary on his or her own for assessment. A rubric is included, along with space for feedback for the students to see where you saw growth and
where the students need improvement.
I can tell you, that from teaching this unit to my own students, I saw GREAT improvement in their summary writing. This foundation can then transition them into writing informative
research papers or reports as the paragraph structure they learn can be applied in so many different ways.
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