Five Finger Summary
The five finger summary strategy is designed to help students remember the key elements of a story. Each finger represents a different story element: setting, characters, problem, events, and solution. This gives students a visual for what to include when summarizing a story. When a reader can recall these five key elements, he or she should be able to provide a basic story summary.
Setting: Where or when does the story take place?
Characters: Who or what is the story about?
Problem: What went wrong in the story?
Events: What happened because of the problem?
Solution: How did the story end?
“I love how simple these organizers are for students to understand and for me to use! I just print and go for any passage we are using!” -Mercedes B.
GIST One-Sentence Summary
The goal of a GIST summary is for students to be able to convey the “GIST” of what they read without extraneous details. To assess comprehension, have students answer who, what, when, where, why, and how questions based on the text selection. Next, students condense their answers into a one-sentence summary. Click here to download a free GIST summary graphic organizer.
The story wheel activity helps students practice sequencing, summarizing, and visualization. A story wheel is a circle divided into six segments (like a pie). After reading the text, students fill in the story wheel with six of the most important events from the story. The events can be written or illustrated (or both). To assess learning, have students combine the events into a cohesive summary paragraph with transition words. Click here to see an example story wheel and printable template from Reading Rockets.
A storyboard is similar to the story wheel described above. A storyboard is a series of boxes that allow students to illustrate and write about the major events that took place in a story. It serves as an excellent first step in the summary writing process because it gives students a chance to identify and organize major events before composing a written summary. Here are some examples of different storyboards.
Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then
Practice identifying story elements using the signal words somebody, wanted, but, so, and then. To get started with this, you can also add a question prompt (see below) for each signal word. After identifying the major story components, students will be prepared to write a succinct summary.
Somebody: Who is the main character?
Wanted: What did the main character want?
But: What was the problem?
So: How was the problem solved?
Then: How did the story end?