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Comprehending Chapter Books: Summaries for Second or Third Graders

Are your kids soaring through guided reading and ready for the next step? Sounds like the predicament that I was in last year. This is the PERFECT time to start introducing your students to your favorite chapter books.

Modeling

Before launching any group into reading a chapter book, it is important you do a read aloud and model the exact language that you want to be using with your students when they’re focused on comprehension. In my classroom, we use SWBST (somebody, wanted, but, so, then).

We go chapter by chapter, and talk at the end about who the chapter was mostly about, what their motive was, what problem occurred, how they tried to fix the problem, and how the problem is ultimately solved or not solved. When working as a group, I will model the writing, and if we are working as a class, I will pick a student to do our illustrations (if necessary).

Guided Practice

After we have finished our first chapter book as a class, I try to pick another book from the same series to read with any groups that are ready. I like to start with Stink, as these are perfect for students at the beginning of second grade, but there are tons of great options.

As a group, we all focus on reading the book together, we talk orally about their summary, I model it, and they copy it. Eventually, they move on to talking about it as a group and writing it on their own. Remember – it is essential to go slow in order to go fast later.

Independent Practice

Once we have done a few chapter books together, I start letting my students mix it up and pick their own books and own groups to complete their chapter book summaries. Allowing students to pick their groups/books ensures that engagement is high and ultimately increases their quality of work.

Pacing

Again, the importance to go slow to go fast is essential, so we still always only ever do one chapter per day. Most starter chapter books are about 8-10 chapters, so it takes about 2 weeks to complete one book.

Resources

I have two favorite resources that we use for chapter book summaries. I like to start with the one where students get to draw, as this will help your visual learners transition from picture books to chapter books. We then move to the flip books, as these have room for many more chapters than the others.

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