I used a blank thinking guide from Fisher Reyna Education to help us focus on the topic, main idea of the article, and the main ideas of each paragraph.
First we previewed the text including the title, subtitle, and any images or nonfiction features. We made a prediction based on this evidence, and we read through the article once to confirm or adjust our predictions.
After we read through once, we discussed the topic of the article and recorded it on our sheets. We then read through one paragraph at a time to identify the main idea of each paragraph. To help students do this, I ask them to notice repeated ideas and to identify what idea is supported in all the sentences of a paragraph, or what the sentences have in common.
Once we had identified each main idea, we decided to bundle them. We read through paragraphs one and two and identified the common idea in both of them. Then we left paragraph three by itself, combined four and five into one main idea, and combined six and seven into another. We wrote a few words to identify what bundles we had made.
Students had been practicing writing open-ended summaries for weeks, so I thought I'd try a scaffolded response by providing some choices. I wrote four different versions of a summary for the article. One was complete and accurately represented all of the main ideas we identified. The others were either missing an important piece and overly represented a small detail, or misrepresented some information in the article.