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Lesson Plan

Guided Comprehension in Action: Teaching Summarizing With the Bio-Cube

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Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time At least four 45- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Alexandria Gibb

East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Danielle Bevilacqua

East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1: Teacher-Directed Whole Group Instruction

Session 2: Teacher-Guided Small Group Instruction

Session 3: Student-Facilitated Work

Session 4: Teacher-Facilitated Setting: Whole-Group Reflection and Goal

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Acquire knowledge by completing research on self-selected subjects using Internet sources

  • Comprehend, interpret, and evaluate information using both print and online tools

  • Communicate their findings using a completed Bio-Cube to prompt them

  • Demonstrate comprehension of what they have learned about summarizing information during class discussions

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Session 1: Teacher-Directed Whole Group Instruction


1. Begin by reminding students about the importance of studying biographies. Review with students by discussing what constitutes a good biography, previewing the prompts included in the Bio-Cube.

2. Ask students what type of assignments they have used summarizing for and why it was important. Engage in a direct explanation of summarizing, focusing on expository text. Remind students that summarizing is important because it helps readers process and comprehend text. It also allows readers to use a variety of sources during research. Remind students also that summarization can be used in all content areas and tell them that they will use it to summarize a biography.

Review how to summarize with students, making sure to tell them to include main ideas and important supporting ideas. Make connections to the Bio-Cube, explaining that it provides a structure for summarizing a person's life.


3. Show students the first biography you have chosen to use as an example (see Preparation, Step 5). Read the text of the biography, pausing occasionally to think aloud about the Bio-Cube components and to mark necessary information with sticky notes. For example, Side 1 of the Bio-Cube asks for the person's name, time period, and place. Using a printed copy of Steve Irwin's biography, place sticky notes under Irwin's name and his date and place of birth.

4. After reading the text, use a transparency of the Bio-Cube Planning Sheet to demonstrate how the information from the biography can be used to complete it. Use a think-aloud to show how you move the information that you have marked with sticky notes to the Bio-Cube Planning Sheet. For example say, "I have found all of the information I need for the Bio-Cube. Now I'm going to fill in the Bio-Cube Planning Sheet with the information that I have marked. The first thing that I have marked is Irwin's name. I will write that on the part of the planning sheet that asks for the information for Side 1."

5. Using an LCD projector or a computer with a large screen, demonstrate how to transfer the information from the Bio-Cube Planning Sheet to the interactive Bio-Cube on the computer. Think aloud for students saying, "Now that I have my Bio-Cube Planning Sheet filled out, I can enter my information into the Bio-Cube tool." Demonstrate for students and remind them that they may have to further summarize and condense their information to fit on the Bio-Cube. If you do not have a computer with Internet access, use the transparency of the blank Bio-Cube.

6. Use the Bio-Cube to create an oral summary about Steve Irwin that you share with students. You want to make sure they understand that the important main ideas and supporting ideas they will need to include in their oral summaries can be found on the Bio-Cube. Remind students to speak clearly and loudly when giving their oral summaries.


7. Place students into small groups of two or three using flexible grouping.

8. Read aloud from Meet J.K. Rowling (or the biography you have selected). As you read, begin to record information on another Bio-Cube Planning Sheet on the overhead projector. Note the information for the first side of the cube.

9. Guide student groups in providing information for Personal Background (Side 2) and Personality Traits (Side 3) by showing them that they may need to use additional resources to complete the Bio-Cube Planning Sheet. Show students Thomson Gale: J(oanne) K(athleen) Rowling, which contains more information than the brief biography on the Scholastic website. Mention that the link is produced by an educational publisher that publishes textbooks and dictionaries, and therefore, it can be considered a reliable source of information. Discuss students' ideas and add the suggested information to the planning sheet on the overhead.


10. Students should work in their groups to complete the remaining sides about J. K. Rowling on their own Bio-Cube Planning Sheets. Students should then transfer the information to the Bio-Cube on their computers and print the Bio-Cube when they are finished.

11. Have students share with their partners an oral summary that is based on the information they have just entered and then share and discuss their Bio-Cube and summary with another group of students. The goal of these discussions is for students to share the information they have learned with other students as well as serve as practice in speaking and listening skills.


12. Reflect with students using think-alouds focused on how the Bio-Cubes helped them to understand what is important about people's lives and how Bio-Cubes can be used to summarize that information. Questions for discussion include:

  • Do you think that you know J. K. Rowling better?

  • Have you learned anything new about her?

  • How did the Bio-Cube help you organize the information you found?
13. Discuss how to use Bio-Cubes in other subject areas. Ask students how they think the Bio-Cube might help them better understand important people in math, history, or science. How might they change the information they enter depending on the purpose of their summary? Could the Bio-Cube for a given individual be different if students fill it out for a different purpose?

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Session 2: Teacher-Guided Small Group Instruction


1. Remind students about the comprehension strategies that readers use such as generating questions and finding main ideas. Focus on summarizing using Bio-Cubes. Explain that they will be reading a magazine article about Jackie Robinson.


2. Begin by discussing what students already know about Robinson and baseball. Students' responses may include that he was a baseball player in the past, that he was the first African American player to play major league baseball, or that he is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. Following the discussion, ask students to read TIME 100: Jackie Robinson to learn new or more detailed information. As they read, have students highlight the information needed to complete the Bio-Cube Planning Sheet. Students should then complete the planning sheet. Provide support as needed.


4. Students should transfer the information from their planning sheets to the online Bio-Cube. Remind them to print their work when they are finished.

5. Share expectations for the oral summary with students. Remind them to include all the points from their Bio-Cube. Review how to speak clearly and listen quietly when others are giving their oral summaries.

6. Once they are finished and have printed their Bio-Cubes, students should get into their small groups from Session 1 and contribute to an oral summary.

7. Students should then discuss what they have learned about Jackie Robinson with the class.


8. Reflect with students about how summarizing helps them to understand what they have read and how Bio-Cubes help them to summarize people's lives.

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Session 3: Student-Facilitated Work

During this session, students rotate through both the Student-Facilitated Comprehension Centers and the Student-Facilitated Comprehension Routines to expand their knowledge about biographies.

Student-Facilitated Comprehension Centers

  • Research and Technology Center: Students can access the websites from the Resources section to create a Bio-Cube about a famous person of their choice. Students should use at least two research sources and the Bio-Cube Planning Sheet.

  • Art Center: Students can create a collage about a self-selected subject using details from the person's life.

  • Writing Center: Students can use their completed Bio-Cubes and the Cinquain Poem Outline to write a poem about their subject.

Student-Facilitated Comprehension Routines

Students can practice using the Bio-Cube with the subject of a biography they have recently read in Literature Circles.

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Session 4: Teacher-Facilitated Setting: Whole-Group Reflection and Goal


1. Begin by asking students to share the Bio-Cubes, collages, poems, and summaries they created during Session 3 with the entire class.

2. Ask students to reflect on their abilities to create Bio-Cubes and use them to develop oral summaries.


3. Reflect with students about how summarizing helps them understand what is being read and how summarizing different kinds of text requires different components.

Set new goals

4. As students should be feeling confident with their abilities to use summarizing, have students set new goals for learning multiple ways to evaluate texts. These goals might include inferring, generating questions, and research.

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Observe students throughout the Guided Comprehension process and use their completed interactive Bio-Cubes, oral summaries, and other projects as articles for assessment. You might create a checklist that includes the various comprehension centers, oral summaries, and practice sheets you choose to require for your students. For writing projects, use your state writing rubric with the additional purpose of familiarizing students with it. You might also create your own rubric for oral summaries using considerations such as presentation, tone, volume, or eye contact.

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