In order for students to enhance their reading comprehension, it's essential that they're able to answer the question "What's a summary?" and thus write one about what they've read. One of the ways to start practicing this strategy is by breaking up the assignment chapter by chapter. Teachers can help students do this by writing a chapter summary template, which the students can use as a basis to write their own summaries. In addition to a template, teachers should also model this by writing a summary of a chapter example that students can refer to each time they're given this assignment.
Choose a Familiar Book
The best way to help students write a chapter summary is by choosing a book that they're all familiar with. This is just so the teacher can write a summary of a chapter as an example. Once students get comfortable with the process, they can choose their own book to write a chapter summary. Teachers should choose a book that they have read out loud several times to the entire class. The book should be accessible for all abilities in the classroom.
Materials Required and Teaching Methods
In order to write a chapter summary template, the teacher must have all the materials available. Next, the teacher can go ahead and teach by using the "I do, we do, you do" model. At first, the students should be sitting at their desks or on the rug in front of the teacher. This is the "I do" part. The teacher should have an easel with paper or a board they can write on, along with markers. They should have the book that the summary template will be based on, as well as a large version of a story map, so the students can see what it looks like.
After demonstrating to the students how to write the chapter summary, students can go back to their desks and copy what the teacher is doing using paper and a pencil. This is the "We do" part. Afterwards, the students can try to write their own chapter summary using the template the teacher provides. The teacher may decide to have a copy of the template written on regular paper that can be handed out so that the students can simply fill it out. This is the "You do" part.
Prepare the Students to Write the Summary
Before writing a chapter summary template, the teacher should ask the students, "What's a summary" just to get their juices flowing. Then, the teacher should introduce students to the concept of a story map. However, students should be familiar with how to fill out a story map already. A story map can help students visualize the setting of the chapter, the characters, the main idea and most importantly, the plot summary. The plot summary section should have "First, Next, Then, Last" which guides students into sequencing the events of the chapter in order.
Writing a Chapter Summary Template
Instead of coming up with a template idea from scratch, teachers can find plenty of examples of how to write a template online by searching terms such as "What's a summary template example?" Once they have a template they like, they can work with their students to fill in the blanks:
"Today I read a chapter from the book (book title) by (book author). The chapter was called (name of the chapter or chapter number) and the characters in this chapter were (name characters). I (liked/disliked) this chapter because (give one or two reasons why)."
"First, (use information from the story map)."
"Next, (use information from the story map)."
"Then, (use information from the story map)."
"Last, (use information from the story map)."
"In conclusion, the main idea of this chapter was (write the main idea). I think that in the next chapter (make a short prediction of what students think will happen). I thought that this chapter was very (use an adjective to describe feelings about the chapter)."
Teachers using this template or any other template should fill it out with information from the book chosen at the beginning of class. This way, students have a summary of a chapter example they can always use as a reference.
- Provide specific summary templates, as well as examples of summaries, for the different types of literature that your students will be writing, such as fiction, poetry, scholarly book, biography or pop culture.
- Explain to students that the template is to be used to help them get started in their summaries, but that after they have a working draft, they should move to make the summaries their own by adding information or changing sentence structure.
Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.