As I wrote last week, we're in the final stretch of test prep, and so we are brushing up on story elements and fiction summarizing. The students did a nice job of summarizing the story "The Goose in the Blackberry Patch". However, they had some trouble with the story "The Mystery Eggs".
Why? The stories are both fairly short. On the surface, they seem to be somewhat similar. However, it didn't take me long to realize the problem--"The Mystery Eggs" contains much more dialogue.
And it is the dialogue that's so tricky for students to summarize. Many of my capable readers wanted so earnestly to provide a faithful accounting of the events that they tried to explain the characters' conversation. It sounded something like this--"Melanie said the eggs were bird eggs, and Clara said no they are not." Some of them ran out of room before they were able to explain all of the events and tell how the problem was solved.
What to do next? For testing, I am not too concerned...as long as students get the key events (and most did), they should be fine.
But I now have a wonderful direction for instruction once testing is over. We had already planned to begin literature circles. I'm going to continue to work on summarizing that tricky dialogue. I've created a list of words to use for summarizing dialogue, and some practice activities. As students read their literature circle novels, they'll try to find pages that are heavy in dialogue, and summarize those pages.
here, under the Grade 4 Reading Sampler for 2008-2009. It's a really fun one that kids always like, despite the fact that I use it for test prep.